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The Study Tour on Aquaculture (including some aspects of freshwater fisheries) held from 2 May-1 June 1978 in China was the fourth of a series organized by FAO and the Government of the People's Republic of China. It was the first of the study tours in 1978 and was financed by UNDP as an inter-regional project (INT/77/017). In 1976, a professional study mission consisting of four FAO staff members visited China to study freshwater aquaculture and, among other things, recommended the organization of "study tours of inland fishery administrators and planners to provide them with new or different perspectives on their own problems".

Aquaculture being one of the areas in which China has made notable progress, there is widespread interest in studying the organization and practices followed and in determining their applicability in other countries. This study was therefore organized to provide directors of fisheries or senior fishery officials at the policy-making level from selected developing countries, with the opportunity to observe aquaculture development in China, the strategy of development, policy and programme planning mechanism, priorities and implementation. It was also intended to give the participants an opportunity to study the underlying principles of fisheries and aquaculture development, its relationship with overall agriculture development and integrated rural development, and the organizational aspects of fisheries development as a whole. The Government of China has been running a series of short-term training courses for technicians from selected countries, sponsored by the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) and UNDP in the Guangdong Provincial Research Institute of Aquatic Products in Guangzhou. The study group was to be given the opportunity to visit this training centre to determine its suitability for training of technicians from the participating countries in different aspects of fish culture.

The study group arrived in Beijing on 30 April 1978 in two batches; one batch of 13 from Teheran and the other of five from Tokyo. The list of participants is given in Appendix 1. Dr. T.V.R. Pillay, Programme Leader, Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme, FAO, acted as the leader of the group. Mr. Chang Shihjang, Deputy Director, International Division, Bureau of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, together with a team of interpreters, accompanied the study group during its travels in the country.

FAO had indicated in advance the main activities that the group would like to see. The host Government proposed an itinerary which included most of the items suggested. As additions were impractical owing to shortage of time or travel and accommodation problems, the proposed itinerary was followed with only minor alterations (see Appendix 2). Although the group cannot claim to have studied representative production units, the itinerary appears to have covered a fairly representative number of communes, production brigades and institutions of the advanced type that had distinguished themselves in their fields of endeavour. They clearly showed what is capable of being achieved under conditions existing in China and made it possible to evaluate the possibilities of applying Chinese experience in participating countries. The group's itinerary included visits in the provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hunan and Hubei and the municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai. State fish farms; fish farms operated by communes, production brigades and production teams; hatcheries; integrated production of fish, crops and livestock; fish culture in lakes, reservoirs and rivers; fish culture and hydrobiological research; fishery education, training and extension services; fishing; fish transportation, processing and marketing, were the major activities studied by the group. Even though it was not possible to visit any of the coastal aquaculture sites, the group was briefed on the techniques adopted and was shown a film that described the operations in some detail.

Fig. 1 Map of China. The names of places visited by the study group are boxed

In all the places visited, the senior local official(s) concerned gave a general briefing, tracing the progress made in aquaculture since the liberation of China and the steady increases in production obtained since then. This was generally followed by long question and answer sessions through which the group was able to gather a fair amount of quantitative information. It was not possible to obtain many published or unpublished reports on specific projects and so the main source of information, on which this report is based, consists of the briefs and data provided during discussions. Since very often such information was given from memory (although only after sometimes prolonged discussions between the local officials), they should largely be considered only as quantitative approximations. They are, however, clearly indicative of the trends and general directions. Even though the interpreters assigned to the group were extremely helpful and efficient, the interpretation of technical discussions, particularly of quantitative data, presented very considerable problems. In spite of these problems, and the size of the group, which tended to make most discussions somewhat formal, the observations and conclusions contained in this report are considered generally correct and valid. After each major visit, the group met to compare notes and discuss findings. Efforts were made to reconcile differences in understanding, particularly figures, by repeated enquiries from different sources.

In most institutions and places visited, the hosts invariably expressed their interest in learning from other advanced countries and asked the group to give their views and suggestions for improvement of their activities. Where the time permitted and the hosts seemed anxious to have the information, the leader and some of the members of the group described related activities in other countries and indicated possible adoption of improved practices under Chinese conditions. Provision of useful relevant literature for this purpose was promised. (The group leader has since furnished literature on a number of subjects.)

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