A number of countries in the region have short-term programmes underway for aquaculture development as part of their fishery development plans. However, the medium- and long-term requirements of the industry and the policies to be adopted for fulfilling these need to be examined in detail. Further, measures to achieve higher production than targeted and in shorter time than originally envisaged need to be considered. An analysis of the projected future demand for fishery products based on the rate of increase of population and income, the required increase in per caput consumption of fishery products to meet nutritional needs, and the possible expansion of capture fisheries, clearly show that large-scale development of aquaculture is essential to meet the expected deficit in fish products. There is also considerable interest in increased production of prawns, shrimps and eels for export.
The economic as well as social benefits of aquaculture need to be taken into account in formulating plans Though the economic profitability is known among aquaculturists, this has not been sufficiently well-documented and publicized with the result that questions are often raised regarding the economics of operation. As 'bankable project' economic criteria may not sometimes be fully applicable in aquaculture ventures, attempts should be made to quantify the social benefits to facilitate proper evaluation of projects by planning authorities. Financial support for aquaculture has suffered from lack of appropriate feasibility studies and project analyses by competent teams of specialists. In this connexion, participants from many countries adversely commented on the long time lag and multiplicity of missions undertaken by international and regional bank groups and the small number of loans that materialize from these. All the countries would benefit if the services of a multidisciplinary team of specialists could be made available to undertake coordinated feasibility studies and prepare bankable projects.
The availability of seed has been recognized as one of the most crucial factors in the expansion and intensification of aquaculture and so detailed estimates of the seed requirements on an annual basis have to be made.
Many systems of culture are adopted in the region, but large-scale production in the short and medium term may need to be based on the systems that have proved to be highly productive and profitable. New and improved systems of culture can be expected to be developed as a result of research. Adequate provision has to be made in development plans for pilot-scale operations to test the technical and economic feasibility of such systems before they are utilized for large-scale production.
Considering the species suited for culture, the Workshop recognized the special importance and value of species with short food chains from the point of view of economy and efficiency of food utilization. It was also pointed out that mollusc culture remains an under-utilized source of food production in most of the Asian countries. Greater efforts need to be provided for in the plans to investigate the feasibility of this form of culture. In fact, coastal aquaculture presents greater opportunities for large commercial-scale aquaculture in the region.
In reviewing the data on the availability of sites for aquaculture, the Workshop discussed the problems related to the present practice of using existing water areas, particularly village ponds and multipurpose community-owned water bodies. While the reduced capital investment needed is a major advantage, the management of such areas presents problems and there is a need for more critical examination of the cost and benefits of such practices.
The Workshop recognized that there are major deficiencies in the available basic data for aquaculture planning and that plans have to be formulated on the basis of a number of assumptions. A system of data collection and analysis directed toward refinement and periodic revision of planned targets and production procedures has therefore to be established. Expertise in aqua-culture planning has to be developed for this purpose in fisheries administrations.