Part IV - Aquaculture Development Trends


Current Status and Development Trends of Aquaculture in the
Asian Region

Hassanai Kongkeo1

Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), Suraswadi Building
Department of Fisheries, Kasetsart University Campus
Ladyao, Kjatujak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Kongkeo, H. 2001. Current status and development trends of aquaculture in the Asian Region. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp. 267-293. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.

ABSTRACT: The past 20 years have seen Asian2 aquaculture evolve from a traditional practice to a science-based activity and grow into a significant food production sector, contributing more to national economies and providing better livelihoods for rural and farming families. Aquaculture used to be regarded as an infant in comparison with crop and livestock husbandry and capture fisheries. It has since matured into a better-organized economic sector characterized by more state patronage but also a stronger private-sector participation, in most parts of Asia. Asia dominates the world in aquaculture production and the sector is extremely diversified in species, technologies and farming systems employed. Many governments place priority on aquaculture development, however there are various threats and constraints to its growth. Asia’s contribution to total world production in 1997, following the International Standard Statistical Classification for Aquatic Animals And Plants (ISSCAAP} grouping, was: finfish -89 percent; crustaceans (marine) - 80 percent; freshwater crustaceans - 94 percent; molluscs - 88 percent; aquatic plants - 98 percent, and miscellaneous animals and products - 99 percent. The region provides 91 percent of global aquaculture production. In 1997, the combined aquaculture production was 32.63 million mt valued at US$41.95 billion, an increase of 144 percent and 117 percent in weight and value, respectively compared to 1988. Aquaculture production in the region has been growing at a rate nearly five times faster than landings from capture fisheries, and its share of total fisheries landings in the region increased from 32 percent to 50 percent between 1988 and 1997.

The two major influences on Asian aquaculture development policy are the recent broadening from technical and economic objectives towards social objectives for aquaculture development that include poverty alleviation, livelihood development and food security, and the links made between sustainable aquaculture practices and trade. An increasing recognition of the importance of small-scale, socially oriented aquaculture is happening, and recent initiatives have been made at the regional level to focus governments and regional organizations on this issue. The role of the fish farmer is changing from merely raising fish to being a part of a chain for the production and delivery of safe, high quality products to the consumer. The link made to production practices and their impact on the environment, on one hand, and trade, on the other hand, has been reflected in recent regional and national programmes.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture, Fish Farming, Asia, Development, Development Trends





The past 20 years have seen Asian aquaculture evolve from a traditional practice to a science-based activity and grow into a significant food production sector, contributing more to national economies and providing better livelihoods for rural and farming families. During the period 1988-1997, Asian aquaculture production grew from 13.4 to 32.6 million mt (APR [Annual Percent Rate of growth] 11 percent), increasing its value from US$19.3 billion to US$42 billion (APR 9 percent).

Aquaculture used to be regarded as an infant when compared with crop and livestock farming and capture fisheries. In most parts of Asia, the activity has matured to become a clearly defined economic sector that is better organized and characterized by state patronage and strong private-sector participation. Many changes have occurred alongside the sector’s development. Aspirations for higher yields through technological innovation have been tempered with concerns for sustainability. Economically, the drive for higher profits has been qualified by schemes to distribute benefits fairly. As a commodity industry, the purposes of producing more food, earning higher incomes and improving economies have been expanded to include ensuring food security, alleviating poverty, and promoting social harmony and prosperity.

These shifts in outlook, not confined to aquaculture and prompted by global and social forces, occurred in the last part of the previous century. It is in the midst of these changes that aquaculture development in Asia finds itself at the beginning of the new millennium.

The status of Asian aquaculture

Asia dominates global aquaculture production. This simple statement covers, however, the extreme diversity encountered within the sector, not only in the species reared and the technologies and farming systems employed, but also in the role and objectives of aquaculture development in different countries, the priorities placed by governments and the threats and constraints to its growth.

These considerations, in addition to the wide range of geographic locations, habitats and levels of national development, are important influences on how, and how fast, aquaculture will develop in the region. For these reasons, it would be better to look at the status and trends of Asian aquaculture by subregion, or on a national basis, with China3 classified by itself as a subregion in view of the sheer size of its aquaculture.



By the same token, India merits the same focus. Nevertheless, analysis of the overall regional status serves a useful purpose, particularly in trying to identify regional opportunities and actions.

Asia’s contribution to total world production in 1997 (Fig. 1), following the International Standard Statistical Classification for Aquatic Animals And Plants (ISSCAAP) grouping, was: finfish - 89 percent; crustaceans (marine) - 80 percent; freshwater crustaceans - 94 percent; molluscs - 88 percent; aquatic plants - 98 percent, and miscellaneous animals and products - 99 percent.




The region provides 91 percent of global aquaculture production, where the top 10 Asian aquaculture producers are China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand (also the top seven producers in the world), Bangladesh, Viet Nam and DPR Korea.

In 1997, the combined aquaculture production in Asia was 32.63 million mt (Fig. 2) valued at US$41.95 billion, an increase of 144 percent and 117 percent in weight and value, respectively compared to 1988. Aquaculture production in the region has been growing at a rate nearly five times faster than landings from capture fisheries, and its share of total fisheries landings in the region increased from 32 to 50 percent between 1988 and 1997.

Production by commodity groups


Throughout Asia, the production of finfish has increased from 6.36 million mt in 1988 (having a value of US$10.1 billion) to 16.7 million mt (US$22 billion) in 1997, representing an average APR of 11 percent, while annual growth during the period 1992-1996 averaged 15 percent. In South Asia4, fish for food, mainly freshwater species, dominate production, with over 94 percent of total fish production in 1997. Freshwater and diadromous species occupy 92 percent of the subregion’s total production, the remainder being crustaceans. Subregional production attained 2.2 million mt in 1997, worth US$22 billion.


  In Southeast Asia5, freshwater foodfish species comprise almost 30 percent of the total aquaculture output, mainly from Indonesia, Viet Nam, Thailand and the Philippines. While the overall production of diadromous species has been decreasing, milkfish contributed an additional 13 percent in 1995. Rising Indonesian aquaculture has been a major contributor to the increased production of freshwater species in this subregion. Aquaculture produced 1.5 million mt worth US$3.4 billion in 1997.

China is the major finfish producer in East Asia6, where total production was 13 million mt in 1997 (Fig. 3) worth US$16.1 billion. The production of freshwater finfish in China, mainly of carp and tilapia species, was over 12 million mt in 1997, accounting for 37 percent of regional aquaculture and 34 percent of global aquaculture (Fig. 3). In recent years, diversification towards luxury freshwater species has been emphasized, including mandarin fish, freshwater crabs and prawns, eels and softshelled turtles. Nonetheless, carps accounted for 92 percent of freshwater production and represented 47 percent of national production in tonnage and 40 percent in value.

Japan produces some 322 000 mt of finfish, worth US$2.8 billion, having an average value regularly higher than US$9/kg. This is mainly due to the production of significant quantities of Japanese amberjack (138 000 mt), silver seabream (80 000 mt), Japanese eel (24 000 mt) and rainbow trout (13 500 mt).

Around 14 percent of all finfish production in the world consists of carp, more than 90 percent of which is produced by aquaculture and where 80 percent of this amount is produced by China. In most countries, carp is consumed locally and, with few exceptions, producers of Chinese and major carp species have been unable to find markets outside Asia. Carps, as a group, are not traded globally. Carp supply in China, India and countries of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States], will probably continue to increase steadily, at least in the near future, in response to population growth and demand.

Tilapia has spread outside of Africa, its origin, and is now a common feature of aquaculture not only in Asia but also in Latin America and the Caribbean. Producers have access to domestic markets in several Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Thailand and China, and there is also an established and rapidly expanding market in the United States that is providing additional impetus to tilapia farming in several countries.




Tilapia products are also being sold in Japan and in European countries.

Small quantities of trout are farmed in Iran, Pakistan, the colder regions of India, and in Nepal, but Japan is the largest producer with some 13 500 mt produced in 1997. Trials are starting in Thailand to grow trout in the cooler climates (northern hills) as an income generating activity and largely for the domestic market.

The production of eels is significant in China, Japan and Taiwan Province of China, where the focal point for trade is Japan, which imported 11 000 mt of live eels and 45 500 mt of processed eels in 1996. Regional production has risen from 92 000 mt (1988) to 224 500 mt (1997). However, major growth has only occurred in China (>100 000 mt over the period), production dropping significantly in Japan (from 40 000 mt to 24 000 mt) and in Taiwan Province of China (52 000 mt to 22 000 mt). Furthermore, the 1998 value of the eel output (US$314 million) in Japan was a huge drop from the 1995 peak of US$577 million, because of the decrease in quantity produced (from 29 131 mt in 1995 to 21 971 mt in 1998) and average price of the product from (US$20/kg to less than US$15/kg.

As production capacity has grown, disease and a shortage of elvers of Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) have caused seed supply problems in the region and initiated the trade of elvers of the European eel (A. anguilla) from Europe to Asia, particularly, China. Recently, a resurgence in the recruitment of the Japanese elver has alleviated the situation.


Aquaculture of crustaceans, mainly shrimp and crabs, yielded 539 000 mt in 1988, worth US$3.5 billion. By 1997, this had risen to 1.1 million mt (APR 9 percent), having a value of US$7.2 billion (APR 9 percent).

Shrimp production in 1997 was worth US$6.9 billion at farm gate prices to the region, representing a total of 902 000 mt. The value added through processing is also very significant, making it worth more than US$6.9 billion to the region. Penaeid shrimp is the main crustacean aquaculture product that is traded internationally but, although this is an important source of hard currency in many developing economies, shrimp are much less significant as a food source for domestic consumption.

  The total volume of cultured penaeid shrimp is now close to half that produced by capture fisheries. In volume terms, the rate of increase in production of penaeid shrimp is tapering off in Asia, but one can see a significant increase in the production of freshwater crustacean species, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, mainly in Bangladesh and China.

The growth of penaeid shrimp production has been predicted to slow down in the immediate future. One of the main reasons for this short-term prediction is the slower rate of economic growth in Japan, the world’s largest market for shrimp, as well as the slower economic growth expected in the other developed economies. In addition, the management of shrimp culture is not at a uniformly high level. Furthermore, the emergence of stringent environmental regulations may slow down expansion in Asia.

In South Asia, crustacean culture is dominated by penaeid shrimp, which increased from 37 000 mt in 1988 to 134 000 mt in 1997 as a result of increased production in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka valued at US$858 million. Growth slowed in 1997 due to disease outbreaks and India’s sanctions on shrimp culture. Of note is the large harvest reported in 1997 for the freshwater giant river prawn (M. rosenbergii) in Bangladesh, 48 000 mt valued at US$497 million.

In Southeast Asia, the production of shrimp and prawns grew from 220 000 mt in 1988 to 562 500 mt in 1997, where Penaeus monodon (giant tiger shrimp) represented 450 000 mt in 1997 (80 percent). The decade reviewed (1988-1997) shows the phenomenal growth of this sector in Thailand (+242 percent), the world’s leading producer of this species, Viet Nam (+293 percent) and Indonesia (+115 percent). After production stagnation during the late 1990s, Thailand has rebounded with production of an estimated 250 000 mt in 2000.

East Asia has witnessed significant reductions in shrimp production, where production of the fleshy prawn (Penaeus chinensis) dropped from a high of 207 000 mt in 1992 to a low of 64 000 mt in 1994, recovering to 146 000 mt in 1997. Taiwan Province of China’s giant tiger shrimp production dropped from a peak of 78 500 mt in 1987 to only 5 000 mt in 1997. Overall, the subregion’s production of shrimp and prawns has decreased from 246 000 mt to 163 000 mt, but has shown signs of recovery in recent years.




Other crustaceans for which production is increasing are crabs, notably in China, and after a period of decline, production of freshwater prawn is also rising with increasing outputs from China and Bangladesh.

In West Asia7, crustacean production is nominal and restricted to penaeid shrimp. In Iran it is small but increasing.


Mollusc aquaculture is dominated by East Asia (98 percent of the region’s production), the remainder being attributed to Southeast Asia. Regional production reached 7.6 million mt in 1997, valued at US$7.6 billion, compared to the 1988 production of 2.6 million mt worth US$2.5 billion, an APR of 13 percent in volume and 14 percent in value.

Molluscs are almost always reared for sale, rather than household needs, usually being sold to markets located near the place of production. Mollusc culture in Asia was not affected much by the 1997-1999 economic downturn and will continue as a source of growth in aquaculture production. Cockles and mussels are promoted as cheap sources of protein, while oysters tend to be more of a luxury item, consumed domestically and in some countries as an export item Pearl oysters are significant industries in China, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines and to a lesser extent in India and Thailand.

Big increases in production have occurred throughout the region during the period examined, but most significantly for:

  • Japanese carpet shell (China: from 186 000 mt to 1 257 500 mt);
  • razor clams nei (not elsewhere included) (China: from 138 500 mt to 354 000 mt);
  • Pacific cupped oyster (China: from 447 500 mt to 2 328 500 mt); and
  • Yesso scallop (China: from 129 500 mt to 1 001 500 mt; Japan: from 180 000 mt to 254 000 mt)

Elsewhere in the region, oyster production has stagnated. Mussel production, in general, has declined everywhere, with the exception of the increases reported for the Korean mussel in the Republic of Korea (8 000 mt to 64 000 mt).

Aquatic plants

East Asia and Southeast Asia produce the bulk of aquatic plants within the region, where seaweeds, mostly brown or red, dominate the volumes reported.

  These subregions provide almost all of the brown, red and green seaweeds produced in global aquaculture. While aquatic plant production almost doubled between 1988 and 1997 in East Asia, rising from 3.5 to 6.3 million mt, the contribution to aquaculture production dropped from 32 percent to 23 percent. In Southeast Asia, the pattern is different, production growing over the same period from 0.34 to 0.76 million mt, the contribution changing from 22 percent to 25 percent.

The region’s total production was 7 million mt in 1997, valued at US$4.8 billion, figures that indicate APRs of 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The average value/kg for this group has eroded from US$0.84 to 0.68, an APR of -0.2 percent.

The highest reported global production of any cultured aquatic organism for 1997 was the kelp Laminaria japonica, totalling over 4.4 million mt. In the top 10 species, carps have consistently led production, followed by plants and shellfish (1988); by 1997, shellfish had overtaken aquatic plants in this position.

Comparison of the top ten aquaculture species in the Asian Region, ranked by production importance in 1988 and 1997 is given in Table 1.

One can note that the top ten species contribute two-thirds of the region’s production, but that carps have displaced aquatic plants from its dominant position and shellfish production, having tripled in volume, now occupies second place in the groups containing the top species.

Table 2 provides a similar comparison, but based on the total value contributed by different aquaculture species.

Most notable is the rise to the top, from 5th place, of the giant tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), which contributed 9 percent of the total value of Asian aquaculture in 1997, although it is 17th in the production ranking. Thailand contributed more than half this figure, despite disease problems. The production of P. chinensis, which is predominantly cultured in China, was ranked 42nd.

While the production and contribution of the major carp species have increased significantly, the average US$ value/kg has gone down; for the examples cited in this analysis, reductions of 12-30 percent have been seen.




Most of the shrimp species have maintained or increased their US$ value/kg. During the same period, the value of the Japanese eel has halved, while certain fish species (milkfish, rohu, Japanese amberjack and tilapias) have increased.

Production by environment

If one separates aquaculture production by environment, the proportion of freshwater species in total Asian production increased from 43 percent to 49 percent between 1988 and 1997, an average APR of 12 percent. Brackishwater production had an average yearly growth of 5 percent and marine production 10 percent.

The proportion of brackishwater aquaculture decreased from 7 percent to 4 percent while experiencing growth at an APR of 10 percent during the same period. Similarly, marine production had average growth of 10 percent, but its share decreased from 50 percent to 47 percent.

  Freshwater finfish, in particular the Chinese and major carps, accounted for the greatest share (48 percent) of regional aquaculture production in 1997, while aquatic plants contributed 22 percent. A key factor in the rapid rise in the production of some of the species cited has been the increased availability of hatchery-produced seed.

Main culture systems

Inland fresh-and brackishwater ponds, tanks and reservoirs comprise the largest production areas in Asia, with some 1.99 million ha in China. Similarly, there are 147 000 ha in Bangladesh, 900 000 ha in India, 462 000 ha in Indonesia, 255 000 ha in the Philippines, 320 000 ha in Thailand and 392 000 ha in Viet Nam. Viet Nam, Indonesia and the Philippines have more brackishwater than freshwater ponds and which are devoted to shrimp culture as well as other species, such as milkfish in Indonesia and the Philippines.




Freshwater ponds in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and India are generally small and used to grow food fish that are low on the trophic level. These are usually integrated with other operating systems, such as the 127 000 ha of VACs (vegetable-fish-livestock plots or gardens) in Viet Nam, and the undrainable composite-culture ponds in India.

The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific/Asian Development Bank Study (ADB/NACA, 1998) found that almost all carp farming in the region is a polyculture of indigenous and (often) exotic carp species, with the exceptions of Korea and Indonesia, where monoculture of common carp was common. The carp farming systems also commonly contained other non-carp species.

There are three distinct areas of carp polyculture in Asia: South Asia has the major carps; China and cooler waters use Chinese carps, and Southeast Asia uses a mixture of exotic and indigenous carps. For example, in Cambodia,

  Laos and Thailand, indigenous cyprinids such as Puntius spp. are more common.

Thailand’s freshwater ponds are operated for a mixture of objectives. The products of school and village ponds provide food and income among poor families, and these comprise nearly 13 000 units, ranging in size from one-third of a hectare (school ponds) to 8 ha (community ponds). All in all, Thailand has a total of 247 300 ha of inland aquaculture ponds, comprising 122 000 farms and producing annually 196 000 mt of mostly food fish. Commercial freshwater ponds are used to raise higher-priced indigenous species, such as catfish, snakehead, freshwater prawn and tilapia. Many of the commercial entities are integrated farms.

Cambodia has the highest percentage (97 percent) of integrated farms within the semi-intensive carp production activity, perhaps a result of the introduction of this system by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as opposed to tradition. Thailand follows with 62 percent of farms integrated, primarily with chicken farming and tree crops.




Brackishwater ponds are generally devoted to higher-value species, shrimp being the most popular, followed by other crustaceans and diadromous species. Indonesia has extensive brackishwater ponds (385 000 ha] used for shrimp and milkfish. The Philippines has more than 250 000 ha producing milkfish and shrimp; lately, trials have been made with salt-tolerant tilapia being rotated or polycultured with shrimp to determine its effects in controlling shrimp diseases. In India and Bangladesh, there is a tradition of extensive culture of shrimp in large water bodies.

The potential for integration of rice and aquaculture has long been recognized. China has shown that rice-fish systems are indeed productive and, by also using the system to nurture fingerlings, can generate additional income for rice farmers over a short period. China has 1.3 million ha applied to the paddy cum fish system and an additional 281 000 ha of paddy used for fingerling growing. China’s production from the rice-fish system was 455 000 mt in 1997 or almost 500 kg fish/ha. Freshwater fish culture integrated with rice is also found in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Alternate cropping of rice and shrimp – a crop of rice in the wet season followed by a crop of shrimp in the dry season - is also found in some seasonally brackishwater deltas in Southeast Asia (notably Viet Nam) and South Asia (India and Bangladesh).

China’s freshwater fishponds yield an average of nearly 5 mt/ha (9 million mt of fish from 1.9 million ha). Culture-based fisheries in open waters are likewise very productive; 880 000 ha of freshwater lakes yielded around 810 000 mt of fish in 1997, and 1.56 million ha of reservoirs provided 1.16 million mt. China has also exploited the potential of canals, producing 602 000 mt of fish from 370 000 ha of these waterways. The system used within canals usually involves cages or pens.

The NACA/ADB study on aquaculture sustainability and the environment (NACA/ADB, 1998) found that only 24 percent of surveyed freshwater farms in China were integrated, reflecting farm intensification and perhaps, changes in traditional farming practices. The report cautions that this observation needs further confirmation. China’s mariculture (in shallow coastal waters and bays) is likewise characterized by the integration of various species (e.g. seaweed, mollusc an cucumber within a column of coastal water) for an intensive use of the marine environment.


In 1997, China harvested almost 4.7 million mt of seaweeds, 6.5 million mt of molluscs (including scallops and abalones) and 21 500 mt of other coastal aquaculture species. The areas where mariculture is done were made up of 7.9 million ha, including shallow coasts (3.7 million ha), bays (0.5 million ha) and mudflats (3.7 million ha).

Culture-based fisheries in open-water systems, such as oxbow lakes, are significant in India and Bangladesh, where production yields are around 500 kg/ha for native and exotic carps. Stocking involves both native and exotic carps, although some recent stocking programmes in Bangladesh are giving more emphasis to indigenous carps due to concerns over the potential impacts of stocking of exotics on native fisheries and aquatic biodiversity.

Production losses

The first attempt, at a regional level, to quantify the effects of disease occurrence was made by NACA (ADB/NACA, 1991) in 1990. At that time, losses incurred from disease outbreaks were estimated to have been worth US$1.4 billion a year in the developing countries of Asia, and these have increased since. Reports from China suggested that in 1993 alone, shrimp diseases caused losses of US$1 billion. An ADB/NACA farm survey in 1994-1995 (ADB/NACA, 1998) indicated that for carp and shrimp farming, losses from diseases and environment-related problems were valued at around US$300 million a year. Furthermore, external influences that are associated with disease problems (including chemical use, environmental impacts, trade issues etc.) have yet to be properly assessed. Generally, economic losses are likely to increase in scale as aquaculture expands and intensifies, affecting both large-scale and small-scale production units.

Production trends and growth rates

A noteworthy, but perhaps disturbing trend seen in the statistics for the Asian countries/territories from 1988 to 1997 is that the average aquaculture growth (APR) has been 10.4 percent by weight and 9.0 percent by value, but production has not shown steady growth, with year on year increases varying between 1.6 percent in 1990 and 18.6 percent in 1992. After peaking at 18-19 percent in 1992-1993, the rate of increase has slowed down steadily to 5.7 percent in 1997.




This observation coincides primarily with the trends seen for Chinese aquaculture. Some countries within the region have shown production decreases, with a steady decline of production through the period. These are Japan, China, Hong Kong8, Democratic Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China.

A striking trend in Japanese aquaculture has been the decline in production of the major species. For instance, the yields of Japanese amberjack have declined from a high of nearly 170 000 mt in 1995 to 147 000 mt in 1998, while laver dropped from a peak of 483 000 mt (1994) to under 400 000 mt (1998). Pacific cupped oyster production has also shown a steady decline. Of the major mariculture species, only silver seabream and Yesso scallop have shown trends towards rising production.

The annual rate of production growth has been consistently higher in China than in the rest of the region, reflected by the increased rate of difference in the compared production volumes. If aquaculture values are compared, the picture is slightly different. This figure shows that the difference in value is proportionately much less than that of production, confirming the effects of diversification and the maintenance of value in aquaculture in the rest of Asia. Indeed, in China the APR for value has grown and shown stability from 1990-1996, dropping off in 1997. In the rest of Asia, the value APR grew steadily from 1989, but has since declined regularly from 1994 onwards, even showing negative figures in 1996 and 1997. Theses circumstances meant that Chinese production alone had a total value higher than the rest of Asia from 1996.


Demand for aquatic produce

The projections for the average annual population growth rates in the region from 1998 to 2020 are:

  • 0.8 percent for East Asia, growing to 1.66 billion;
  • 1.6 percent for Southeast Asia, growing to 655 million;
  • 1.7 percent for South Asia, increasing to 1.72 billion; and
  • Iran will have 89 million and Australia 22 million.

The total equals 4 124 million people or two-thirds of the earth’s population. Just to maintain, region-wise, the supply of 17.2 kg of fish per capita (1995 average), the Asian Region would require more than 70 million mt of food fish in 2020, to be supplied from capture fisheries and aquaculture. A look at the situation by region would show differences, but all the same, the indications are for aquaculture to increasingly fill the fish supply requirements of the populations.

In China, aquaculture already contributes more than 60 percent of the total fisheries production and, in 1995, the per capita supply of fish was 22.2 kg, implying a need for 32.2 million mt by 2020 assuming a constant per capita fish supply. If the same supply proportion were to be maintained, 19 million mt would be needed from aquaculture. Southeast Asia’s average per capita supply is now 24.7 kg a year; with a population of 655 million it will require 16.2 million mt of food fish. In assuming that 30 percent is to be contributed by aquaculture, almost 5 million mt of food fish need to be supplied by aquaculture.





South Asia will need a total of 8.1 million mt of food fish. In 1997, only 2.33 million mt were produced by aquaculture, 97 percent of this being food fish. If the same ratio is maintained, the South Asian Region will need 7.8 million mt by 2020.The assumptions, and forecasts based on the assumptions, are summarized in the Table 3.

With a total requirement of 35.7 million mt of cultured food fish forecast for 2020, the concern for supply is evident. Since the wild catch is stagnating and forecast to slow even further, aquaculture will have to increase its contribution beyond its current levels.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicts that global aquaculture is likely to show sustained growth in the medium term and could attain 35 to 40 million mt of finfish, crustaceans and molluscs by the year 2010 (FAO, 1998). What this analysis clearly points out is that there is now a burden on aquaculture to meet the future demand for aquatic products, especially that the continued capacity to sustain further productivity increases in all the food production sectors is facing the following threats (UNDP, 1998): losses in genetic resources and biodiversity (e.g. 4 percent of fish and reptile species are threatened with extinction); loss of aquatic habitat such as coral reefs and mangroves, and severe depletion of commercial fish stocks (25 percent of fish stocks for which data are available are either depleted or in danger of depletion, and another 44 percent of fish stocks are being fished to their biological limit). Aquatic resources are not unique in facing such degradation, as 9 million ha of land are extremely degraded, with their original biotic functions fully destroyed, and 10 percent of the earth’s surface is at least moderately degraded, and the availability of safe and clean water has declined steeply to 60 percent (in 1996) of its 1970 value (UNDP, 1998). These trends, which show no signs of changing, indicate that future production of food from aquaculture will face significant challenges in access to and use of resources.

Another crucial point that should be emphasized is that the countries in this region have the highest population densities in the world. There are many issues that aquaculture has to face, but the fundamental one for Asia is that of supply and demand, which has been illustrated above. The critical concerns identified for resolution of this issue relate to social, economic, biological, environmental and institutional questions, which must be resolved with a minimum of conflict and most efficient use of resources.

  To put this into a positive light, aquaculture must be developed in a spirit of social harmony, environmental sustainability and economic progress.

Trends and issues

International trade in aquaculture products

Information on the trade in aquaculture products is rarely separated from trade in fisheries products, making it difficult to analyse trends in the trade of aquaculture products. Comments here are therefore based mainly on fisheries products (FAO/RAP, 2000). By volume, Asia is a net importer of fishery products, mainly because of Japan’s trading patterns where an annual trade deficit (exports less imports) of more than 3 million mt has been registered since 1994. If Japan is excluded from the trade data, the developing countries of Asia would register a surplus of only 35 000 mt a year in the triennium up to 19979. The major net importers (with volumes over 100 000 mt) of fish are China, followed by the Philippines and Malaysia. The major exporters with volumes greater than 100 000 mt are India, Indonesia and Thailand. Of these, aquaculture production probably makes the biggest contribution in Thailand.

In terms of financial value, the countries with developing economies are responsible for more than half of the region’s fishery exports, and there is a dramatic change in the pattern of imports and exports. Exports from developing countries in Asia are mainly high-value products that are directed primarily to developed economies. In the triennium ending in 1997, Thailand was the leading exporter in the region, exporting US$2.92 billion annually, a significant portion of which was cultured shrimp. Other major exporters with more than US$1 billion of fish products per year over the triennium include China, India and Indonesia.

In terms of financial value, the countries with developing economies are responsible for more than half of the region’s fishery export trade, which is directed primarily to developed economies. Between 1993 and 1996, Thailand was the leading world exporter of fish products, at annual values of around US$3.4 billion (although displaced by Norway’s fishery exports in 1997).

Japan is the leading importer of fish products in the world, with a value of US$15.5 billion in 1997.




United States absorbs about 10 percent of the total value and these two countries and the European Community (EC) (including the value of the intra-EC trade) import 75 percent (in value) of internationally traded fishery products.

Shrimp trade

In financial value, shrimp is the most important traded aquaculture commodity in Asia, and Thailand is the world’s main supplier of cultured shrimp, with an output of over 200 000 mt. In 1997, the shortage of shrimp on the world market was acute; but Asia, as a whole, was able to maintain its share of the United States market, and smaller exporting countries in the region such as Indonesia and China performed well, although China has of late rarely exported any shrimp.

Indian shrimp exports to Japan increased by 6.6 percent to a record 59 100 mt, while total exports in the late 1990s have exceeded 100 000 mt, of which around half were cultured. The reasons for increased import to Japan included EU restrictions on Indian seafood, which started in August 1997.

In 1997, Japanese imports of shrimp fell by 7 percent to 267 200 mt, the lowest figure in nine years, reflecting a downward trend that was apparent throughout 1997. The United States shrimp market was very strong, owing to the country’s expanding economy and to the high value of the US dollar, and prices rose by 20 percent in one year. United States imports expanded by 10 percent in 1997, overtaking Japan as the world’s major shrimp market for the first time.

Within the region, for markets such as China (including Hong Kong), Singapore and Malaysia, the imports of fish and fishery products for domestic consumption continued to be lower in 1997 than in 1996 due to the economic problems experienced.

Seaweed trade

Seaweed exports bring significant earnings to the Philippines, China, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea. The Philippines produced over 620 000 mt in 1997 of mostly Eucheuma seaweed, from which the colloid carageenan, which is the export product, is extracted.In East Asia, seaweed (Laminaria and Undaria) are also produced and particularly Undaria, exported.


Mollusc trade

Mollusc exports from the region, including intra-regional trade, increased from 240 000 mt in 1988 to 335 000 mt in 1997, peaking at 380 000 mt in 1996. Important exporting countries are China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. The predominant products are clams, scallops and oysters.

Finfish trade

The trade in live marine fish, particularly reef fishes, has been growing steadily, spurring work on their aquaculture. Market analysis done in 1995 indicated that the total seafood market in Hong Kong and southern China, the main markets at present, was over 220 000 mt a year, within which the estimated annual demand for high-quality live reef fish was 1 600 to 1 700 mt. This study forecast compound growth rates of more than 12 percent, in other words, doubling every six years.

In 1997, Hong Kong consumed 28 000 mt of live fish, of which groupers represent 35 percent by weight and 50 percent by value. Tilapia, filleted or chilled, is a growing export species. Taiwan Province of China supplied half of the 50 000 mt of tilapia consumed by the United States in 1998. Other exporters of tilapia to the United States market, but as yet in small quantities, are Indonesia and Thailand.

Singapore is also a significant market for high-value marine fish, although local cage farming has mainly satisfied its domestic consumption. To meet expected growth in demand, it has initiated the move to farm marine fish in offshore deep-water cages, targeting annual production of 40 000 mt that would be supplied with fry from local hatcheries.

The breeding and growing of ornamental fish and aquatic plants is also a growing industry. The value of world trade (wholesale and retail) in these commodities has been estimated at US$5 billion, generating employment and income to breeders and growers. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have well established and mature industries. Countries such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines have discovered this sector fairly recently, seeing that the activity offers opportunities for rural families to earn income from cultivating freshwater ornamental fishes.





As the Asian economies develop and become more affluent, opportunities for intra-regional trade will increase. Before the economic downturn in the region in the 1990s, intra-regional seafood trade was increasing steadily. Some countries, such as China, Japan and Singapore, continue to be significant importers of seafood within the region and, as other economies recover, these will again play a more important role in trade within the region.

As more countries within the region develop their economies, and as costs will rise in all likelihood, changes will occur in aquaculture production costs. Where the products are destined for export, trade privileges that have been accorded to specific regional countries may also change.

The recent withdrawal, by the European Union (EU], of trade privileges for seafood exports from Thailand to the European Community (EC), for example, has had a significant impact on the export patterns for shrimp in particular and, hence, the cost structure of that industry.

Such events will lead to increasing competition between countries within the region for access to key markets. Countries with lower production costs will take a larger share of regional exports, either directly or via third countries. This phenomenon has already occurred for certain products within key international markets, and since most countries in the Asian Region are producing and exporting within similar markets, price competition for some commodities can be strong.

Cultured shrimp, in particular, has come under threat in key export markets due to adverse publicity concerning the environmental and social impact of some aquaculture activities. Some of this publicity maybe justified, serving to highlight some of the problems in the sectoral development of aquaculture. Nonetheless, this has the unfortunate effect of tarnishing all aquaculture activities in the eye of the consumer. Efforts to provide a reasoned, balanced view of aquaculture activities and the promotion of the benefits of aquaculture products, grown in a responsible manner, are necessary.


Changes in market characteristics (consumption patterns, prices of inputs, market saturation)

Domestic regional changes will have a significant influence on the species promoted for and produced by aquaculture. China, for instance, is targeting increasingly “fine’” (or high-value) species, responding to the rising demands of a more affluent population. On a more fundamental level, increasing populations are prompting higher productivity and, hence, more intensive culture systems.

A major impact seen within this context is that China has become a major importer of fishmeal for livestock and fish feeds, as well as most other countries relying increasingly on artificial feed formulation (i.e. carp farms in China and milkfish in the Philippines). Between 1988 and 1997, the import of fishmeal within the region increased by 66 percent (APR 8 percent) to reach 2.2 million mt. During the same period, the value increased by 87 percent, reflecting a rise in the value/mt of 12 percent. In remembering that not all fishmeal is used for aquaculture, major importers (>100 000 mt/year) are China, Taiwan Province of China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Economic growth, improved living standards and the higher purchasing power of local populations have seen an increased demand for food of improved quality and that is better packaged.

Inevitably, the “cost of compliance” with these demands will be imposed on the sector. For export, this situation favours countries with a well-developed infrastructure for handling and processing to the standards required, but will impose additional costs on countries wishing to develop or increase exports. However, the higher costs of processing in target export countries have led to an increase in the manufacture of value-added products in the producing countries.

The international marketing of Asian seafood has mainly been generic, with little attempt to develop brands or build a specific image. The use of brands or specific identifiers is much greater in developed countries, leading to a higher degree of awareness on the part of the consumer. Countries with large, integrated aquaculture producers (e.g. such as are found in Latin America or Europe) are increasingly using such marketing tools. Efforts leading to the environmental certification of seafood and/or eco-labelling will also increase this trend.




The structure of the Asian seafood export industry, particularly for those countries depending on small-scale aquaculture, incurs different levels of awareness of the present and future importance of such mechanisms in the international market. This situation could lead to Asian exporters being out-competed by those from countries that have better developed marketing “capacity”.

Quality of aquaculture products

The importance of aquaculture production in Asia and in particular that of freshwater fish, most of which are sold in the domestic market, has a significant bearing on the concerns of human health associated with products from aquaculture. The most common method of producing low-value freshwater fish in developing countries, especially in low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs), is to use a combination of fertilizer application and supplementary feed. Polyculture of species that have complementary feeding habits is a general practice, especially with major and Chinese carps. However, the patterns of production are changing rapidly, with a large increase in more semi-intensive farming.

There will be further emphasis on food safety issues in the future. In 1997, a WHO (World Health Organization)/FAO/NACA Study Group (WHO/FAO/NACA, 1999) looked into the food safety issues associated with aquaculture and concluded that there were considerable needs for information, recognizing that such knowledge gaps could hinder the development process. Education is needed to increase the awareness of potential hazards in aquaculture and their management. The Study Group also recognized the difficulties in applying Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures to small-scale farming systems and that food safety hazards associated with aquaculture vary by region, habitat and environmental conditions, as well as by methods of production and management.

In Asian shrimp production and processing, food safety is given increasing attention, largely because of the quality standards required by importing countries but also because of the higher profile given to environmentally friendly practices in the aquaculture sector.


Agreements regulating international fish trade

International rules and regulations play a major role in governing the trade of fishery, affecting aquaculture products in both developed and developing economies. Several major international agreements and codes of conduct include sections that relate to aquatic animals and their products. In the Asia-Pacific Region, however, there is a wide difference in knowledge and expertise between different countries Furthermore, some countries in the region are members of organizations such as the Office International des Épizooties (OIE) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and comply with the terms of such agreements, while others who are not signatories are obviously not bound by the terms of such agreements.

Regulatory and management frameworks for aquaculture

Agencies responsible for aquaculture development

In Asia, the primary responsibility for aquaculture production usually resides within one government ministry or department. By contrast, the management of the resources upon which aquaculture depends, particularly water and land, is normally the responsibility of other ministerial departments. This situation inevitably causes the potential for conflicts between different departments, and confusion or lack of clarity in the application of policy.

The increasing importance of aquaculture strongly argues for governments to give priority to developing clear, well-formulated, implementable and realistic national and local policies for aquaculture development, based on financial, social and environmental sustainability. As the private sector is the key to successful and sustainable aquaculture development, the views of industry should be taken into account in respect of policy formulation, research and development.


The adoption of a “participatory approach” is receiving increasing attention in both aquaculture planning and management. Experience with coastal fisheries management has shown, in general, that the failure to include coastal residents in natural resource management can lead to a lack of community compliance, resulting in resource depletion and conflicts.




This situation can be particularly acute when the government’s capacity to enforce laws and regulations is limited.

A promising approach to this problem is “co-management”, which involves the cooperation of the local community in both establishing and enforcing local management rules, with the requisite support from government. The co-management approach has proved useful for community-based management of some coastal capture-fishery resources, but the devolution of ownership and management of resources towards local people and communities should be explored for coastal aquaculture. The need to develop effective local arrangements for management of aquatic resources will also be stimulated further in some countries by the trend towards devolution of decision-making powers to local government bodies, as in the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

It is also apparent that the views of non-aquaculture groups need to be considered when formulating policy and implementing aquaculture development; without such views and contributions, some problems relating to conflicts of interest may be too difficult to fully resolve.

Such issues are quite new, but there is evidence of increasing involvement of various aquaculture interest groups, including the private sector, local farmers and others, in aquaculture policy formulation. In some countries, the government and farmers have entered into discussion with NGOs and non-aquaculture groups for the formulation of management strategies. Examples have been seen in Sri Lanka, where NGOs have participated in aquaculture policy discussions, and in Malaysia, where input from various government, farming, academic and NGO interest groups was provided in the formulation of the shrimp and marine fish “Codes of Conduct”.


In many countries, aquaculture legislation is poorly developed and frequently consists of a few articles contained within a law regulating capture fisheries. During the last few years, interest has grown to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for aquaculture whose goals would be to protect the industry, the environment, other resource users and the consumer, and to clarify rules for resource use.


This consideration is driven by a variety of factors that include the following:

  • greater political attention to the sector as its economic importance and potential become more apparent;
  • realisation that inappropriate laws and institutional arrangements can severely constrain the sector’s development;
  • evidence of environmental damage and social disruption as a result of the rapid and largely unregulated expansion of shrimp farming; and
  • a growing emphasis on examining production methods as a means of improving the quality and safety of aquaculture products.

While capture fisheries are generally regulated by a single government department or ministry, aquaculture is frequently regulated by many agencies under a variety of laws. In this circumstance, the formulation of a comprehensive regulatory framework for aquaculture is legally and institutionally complex. Typically, the tasks involve drafting or amending legislation that addresses a variety of issues such as land use planning and tenure, water quality and environmental issues, fish movement and disease, pharmaceutical and chemical use, food quality and public health.

It also requires clarification of responsible authorities and the establishment of the arrangements to ensure cooperation and coordination between many different institutions that have jurisdiction over the item or issue concerned.

International developments

The adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) by the 1995 FAO Conference (FAO, 1995) promises to provide a significant influence on the development of regulatory systems for aquaculture in the coming years. Article 9 of the Code deals with aquaculture development and sets out a wide range of relevant principles and criteria. In addition, the “Jakarta Mandate”, which was adopted by the second Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1995, provides useful guidance regarding aquatic biodiversity and related environmental aspects that should be taken into account when developing coastal aquaculture.





During 1994 and 1995, several regional workshops10 were organized to examine environmental, legal and institutional issues associated with aquaculture. Recently, FAO published a compendium on aquaculture and inland fisheries legislation in the Asian Region (FAO, 1996). Although new national laws to regulate aquaculture comprehensively may be desirable in many countries in the region, other options are now being explored. This is because the time required to develop and pass new comprehensive legislation is likely to be several years, while the rapid development of the sector has created an urgent need for regulation. These options include the enactment of regulations that exist under existing legislation and the application of voluntary approaches such as guidelines and codes of practice.

Creating incentives to encourage compliance or disincentives for noncompliance or failure to join the scheme can enhance the effectiveness of voluntary codes of practice. One example is the policy that was adopted in India in 1995 by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which was a major source of refinancing for brackishwater prawn farming in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This policy sets out the conditions to be met before NABARD will provide credit to banks for aquaculture developments. Similarly, Malaysia is considering the requirement that aquaculture enterprises which are given preferential “pioneer” tax status must adhere to a code in order to retain the various tax incentives accorded. Clearly, there is scope for increasing the use of such conditional public and private-sector funding to encourage the application of sustainable aquaculture practices.

The Australian State of Tasmania has recently passed legislation that provides another interesting example of what can be done to address this issue. The new laws (notably the Marine Farming Planning Act [1995] and the Living Marine Resources Act [1995]) impose that the preparation of marine farming development plans must cover areas, rather than sites, and provide for broad community participation in the preparation of these plans. An environmental impact assessment must also be done, with the establishment of a marine farming zone, before site leases are granted to marine farms.

Malaysia is developing an integrated regulatory system for aquaculture, in the short to medium term, but without formulating a specific aquaculture act.

  Instead, new regulations will be incorporated under the existing Fisheries Act, and a voluntary Code of Responsible Aquaculture Practices will be introduced for cage culture and shrimp farming. These measures will be supported by incentives, and institutional structures will be strengthened to ensure the effective monitoring and continuing formulation of aquaculture policy.

Many regulatory systems could be improved by including mechanisms that are designed not only to prevent or reduce the risk of environmental harm but also to help right any damage that may occur. The Tamil Nadu Aquaculture (Regulation) Act of 1995 not only set out conditions to improve the siting and management of aquaculture facilities, but also established an “Eco-Restoration Fund”, funded partially by deposits from aquaculturists, to be used for remedying any environmental damage caused by aquaculture farms. In addition, the constitution of the Aquaculture Authority of India has been made for the regulation of shrimp aquaculture.

Environmental aspects of aquaculture

Environmental issues have become of increasing concern for several reasons. The first is recognition of the increasing pressure on resources in some coastal and inland areas. More attention has been given to the impact of aquaculture on the environment in recent years, partly induced by some well publicized “crashes” within the shrimp industry. This has been accompanied by the publicity given to environmental and social issues surrounding aquaculture. This type of exposure has had a profound impact on the public’s perception of aquaculture, changing it from the “blue revolution” which would improve the availability of cheap, affordable protein to poorer people, to that of being an environmentally unsound means to produce luxury food items for consumers in developed nations.

Australia is adopting integrated farming technologies in a watershed where water is an economic resource and is at a premium (i.e. use must be paid for). This situation is in contrast to that encountered in some countries in the region where traditional integrated farming practices are reducing their levels of integration, applying less species diversification and more emphasis on high-value products.

Balanced resource use

There has to be a balanced and more efficient use of resources. Obtaining conflicts. This situation can be particularly acute when the government’s capacity to enforce laws and regulations is limited.




It appears likely that economic issues related to resource use and the “polluter pays” principle will be faced, in the next few years, by aquaculturists in some countries of the region.

Minimizing negative impacts

Guidance is emerging for the application of practices for improved environmental management, and strategies have been identified for the following:

  • Technology and farming systems: In recognizing the importance of appropriate farming technology/system and management of inputs and outputs, special attention is given to the major resources used (i.e. feed, water, sediments and seed). At this level, management actions mainly involve farmers and input suppliers.
  • Adoption of integrated coastal area management approaches: The importance of integrating aquaculture projects within existing ecological systems in coastal areas is increasingly recognized. This approach requires the consideration of proper site selection and the application of planning and management strategies that allow the allocation of resources among different users.
  • Policy and institutional support: It is necessary to have a clear and supportive policy framework for aquaculture. Particular issues include aquaculture legislation, economic incentives and disincentives, actions for the public image of the activity, private-sector and community participation in policy formulation, and increasing the effectiveness of research, extension and information exchange. Policy decisions and their implementation play a strong role in influencing the management possibilities at both the farm and local area levels.

The environmental assessment of an aquaculture area, rather than targeting individual projects, is now being used to identify opportunities for minimizing the impacts of the aquaculture sector within a particular area (e.g. in a bay, an estuary or a watershed). Such applicable measures are promoted through a wide range of instruments and should be brought together within the framework of an aquaculture development plan, ideally as part of an Integrated Coastal Management Plan.


There is a growing awareness that environmentally friendly aquaculture makes good business sense, and this is particularly true for commercial producers. It is increasingly important when considering the perceptions of target export markets and provides an incentive for both the industry and supporting governments to further advance the adoption of environmentally and socially responsible farming practices through appropriate standards or codes of conduct. Recognized codes of practice require further development and implementation and are becoming particularly important for aquaculture products that are traded internationally.

Aquaculture and environmental rehabilitation

It is well known that inland aquaculture, particularly that within integrated agricultural farming systems, can provide many positive environmental benefits (e.g. water storage on small-scale farms, efficient use of farm resources).

Perhaps less well known and publicized is the fact that coastal aquaculture, including shrimp culture, can also contribute to environmental improvement. For example, seaweed and mollusc culture can contribute to the removal of nutrients and organic materials from coastal waters. It can also provide an alternative source of income and employment for people involved in environmentally destructive fishing practices and other forms of habitat destruction. Other activities of note include the following:

  • Mixed aquaculture-mangrove systems are being used to restore mangrove habitats in some countries (e.g. Indonesia’s tambaks or earthen ponds, Viet Nam’s mixed farming systems);
  • Coral reef fish mariculture provides an effective alternative to destructive fishing practices in coral reef areas;
  • The rehabilitation of fish populations through stock enhancement; and
  • Aquaculture itself is also a technique for the effective monitoring of environmental conditions.

A recent review has suggested that aquaculture within saline inland areas can provide benefits through the use of previously degraded resources, contributing to environmental rehabilitation and poverty alleviation among communities whose livelihoods such damaged resources.




Aquaculture is also being integrated as a component of mangrove rehabilitation projects (as in the Mekong Delta) and within coral reef management activities (small-scale cage culture).

Biodiversity, genetics and aquaculture

The potential impact of farmed aquaculture stocks, especially introduced exotic species, on wild fish and fisheries has been highlighted at many international meetings. Among the potential impacts identified are a loss of genetic resources within healthy or undisturbed populations and a dilution of the wild gene pool through interbreeding with escapees from aquaculture facilities. Initiatives have been made recently to breed indigenous species for stock enhancement purposes as well as for aquaculture, but these are new initiatives and results that could guide development work are not available yet.

Aquafeeds and feeding strategies

When feeds are used in aquaculture, their contribution to production costs varies following the species and the system employed but can be as high as 50 percent of the total costs. Following concern as to the sustainable supply of fishmeal and fish oils, research has focused on identifying alternative, economically viable sources of proteins and lipids for incorporation into feeds. Improved management for more efficient feed use is another area of interest.

Some research (i.e. in Hong Kong) has taken a step further towards the development of environmentally friendly feed. Little information is available on the production of aquaculture feeds in Asia, but a recent estimate indicates a supply of some 1.9 million mt in Asia (excluding China), where 1.2 million mt were for fish and 0.7 million mt for shrimp. An estimate for China (1996) indicated a total aquaculture feed production of 5 million mt, but it was unclear if this figure also included farm-made feeds. The future prospect for fishmeal and oil for animal feeds is that global supply is expected to be stable (FAO, 1998).

A distinction must be drawn between the different feeds manufactured for aquaculture species, i.e. whether for high- or low-value species. The higher values of commodity species, or those reared for export, can justify the investment required for the manufacture, distribution, purchase and use of specially formulated feeds.


However, much of Asian aquaculture involves smallholder-based production of low-value species, either for personal consumption or for local sale. In the latter case, the input cost of feeds is generally negligible and, if feeds are used, they usually consist of cheap, readily available materials.

International development aid to aquaculture

While Asia has received much of the international external assistance for aquaculture development, FAO (1998) has reported reduced levels in recent years. However, the recent trend for such support has been through assistance given to projects having a wider scope. These include as socially oriented projects, environmental rehabilitation projects, as well as integrated area development programmes, such as the Mekong River basin development programme, and the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP). In many of these projects, aquaculture is a component within a broad-scale development.

For the period 1988-1995, the Asian Region accounted for 65 percent of commitments made by funding agencies and donors to development assistance (which is different from actual disbursements) and 38 percent of the projects, while Africa was the recipient of 16 percent of commitments and about a quarter of the projects. The major beneficiaries during this period (i.e. countries receiving at least 1 percent of total aid) included India, China, Bangladesh and Mexico, which all received major loans from development banks, accounting for about 64 percent (about US$638 million) of external aid to aquaculture.

The two most common sources of credit for Asia’s developing countries have been the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In 1997, WB provided US$409 million to South Asia’s agriculture sector (a decrease of 26 percent compared to 1995), while the Asian Development Bank approved 632 loans, of which 10 percent went to the agriculture sector and 50 percent to the financial sector.

Other multilateral programmes that assist small farmers are the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (for agricultural development, including training and provision of experts) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (provision of financial capital enabling women to establish small businesses, including aquaculture).




The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and others, including FAO, extend support to small farmer development programmes under various schemes (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC), Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP)). In addition, a number of donor agencies provide small-scale enterprises with development fund assistance. These include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID], the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the Department for International Development (DFID, United Kingdom), the Groupe de Reflexion d’échange Technologique (GRET, France) and agencies from Belgium and the Netherlands. Assistance to research and development is also provided by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development (DANCED), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the other afore-mentioned agencies.

Assistance by banks, private sector to aquaculture development

Private-sector investment for aquaculture development has tended to be limited to the culture of high-value species, where the systems are more capital intensive. The degree of personal involvement of the investor depends upon the scale and cost of the project. Small-scale projects may be financed directly by the owner or jointly with other investors, with the farm operating without recourse to external sources of finance. As the investment and operating capital requirements increase, it is often necessary for such entities to turn to external sources of funding (e.g. local or national banks).

For larger scale production units, particularly in cases where the investor has little or no direct control over day-to-day operations, such investment is often assessed alongside other potential opportunities. These circumstances can be quite volatile and depend on the relative performance of the investment(s). For example, the short-term nature of many of the shrimp farming investments has resulted in a lot of movement of investment capital, both into and out of the sector.


The Asian Region does not possess a well-developed venture capital market that is willing to invest in new projects of potentially high financial risk. This situation severely limits the region’s capability to develop and bring to the market new technologies without recourse to foreign investment.

This situation can also lead to a loss of opportunity, particularly where the fruits of research that have been achieved in the region benefit projects and investors elsewhere. Additionally, future prospects for private-sector financing are likely to be affected by the current weak economic situation in much of the region.

It is clear that many projects that were funded in the years before the economic crisis in Asia were not subject to the kind of scrutiny that would have identified high-risk investments. The banking reforms that are being undertaken in the region are likely reduce the level of financing available to aquaculture projects unless these can be demonstrated to be technically and economically viable. At the same time, the increasing costs of compliance with government regulations, as well as the trade agreements referred to, will increase the cost of entry into the commercial aquaculture sector.

NGO support to projects involving aquaculture has also increased, noting that there are thousands of NGOs in Asia. National development banks have tended to give a higher priority to projects producing high-value crops, although some, like India’s NABARD, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Bank Pertanian Malaysia, Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives of Thailand, and the Land Bank of the Philippines and others have developed loan programmes for small projects oriented towards rural development.

The private sector has played a major role in Asian aquaculture development, although principally for commercial rearing of higher value species. Due to the predominance of small-scale farms in some countries and the rate of development of intensive aquaculture, feed companies and other suppliers have proved to be a significant source of information for farmers. Shrimp feed companies, in particular, frequently provide information and technical support as part of their customer services. Such information is usually aimed at increasing sales.




Sometimes, this can lead to the widespread recommendation of inappropriate practices, such as overstocking. On the other hand, it has been customary to organize seminars, with invited independent experts, to pass on new information to farmers. On balance, the impact of this type of information transfer has been positive for the production sector. Most feed companies also provide technical support services for both their current and prospective customers, which may include checking water quality, fish or shrimp health and providing advice on the farm. Some suppliers have introduced testing services for shrimp viruses.

The creation of farmers’ groups has become more common in recent years, partly as a response to the pressures put on the production sector by external sources, but also with the realisation by the farmers that a strong professional lobby was needed to put aquaculture on the political agenda. This type of action has improved the exchange of views between the appropriate government bodies and the private sector and has also improved the awareness of wider issues among the members of such farmers’ groups.

Within the region, much aquaculture investment has been, essentially, of a short-term nature. This position, when combined with the lack of local sources of venture capital, has meant that the region, with one or two exceptions, lags behind considerably in the private-sector development of new technologies. An exception to this was the establishment of a consortium of several private-sector companies for the development of a shrimp-breeding programme in Thailand. However, this might not have been established without the major involvement of a government agency that is a major shareholder in the venture. This position demonstrates the contrast with other shrimp breeding initiatives in the Americas that are mostly financed with private-sector funds, albeit using research results achieved through governmental support (universities, institutes and other public bodies).

Regional institutions and their assistance for capacity building

Apart from NACA, there are a large number of organizations and agencies that are active in aquaculture development in the region.

  They include the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), The Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) (through its Aquaculture Department), the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) (which has a sizeable research programme in the Asia-Pacific Region), the Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute (AAHRI) (a regional resource centre for fish health management and now a reference centre on epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS), INFOFISH, the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) (which is collaborating in a study on manpower development for aquaculture and the grouper R & D Network). Information is shared among the organizations and most are managing a number of specific databases for development and management purposes.

There is a growing trend towards collaboration that focuses efforts and links or integrates different initiatives, providing wider attention to and a greater impact on development issues and problems. This approach makes better use of the available resources and is also opening opportunities for governments to decide unified positions, hence a stronger voice in relation to certain international issues, trends or agreements.

One example is a project concerning the responsible movement of live aquatic animals11 that has enabled access, collectively by 21 Asian governments, to the capabilities and assistance of OIE and FAO for promoting quarantine, health certification and a responsible approach to fish health management. Successful work would have a positive impact on both farming practices and trade. Likewise, cooperation between WHO, FAO and NACA on food safety issues has brought regional attention to the concepts and practices of managing food safety hazards that are associated with aquaculture products, an extremely important consideration for consumer protection, trade and stimulation of better management practices.

For manpower development, many national and regional institutions and agencies provide tertiary education. Vocational and short-term technical training provide valuable support to human resources development in the region. While NACA has a large short-term training programme, a number of regional institutions, such as AIT, provide both long-term and short-term training programmes. The regional centres of NACA in India and China have expanded their cooperation with tertiary education institutes to be able to provide longer term degree-based programmes.




If aquaculture is to sustain its growth momentum within the region more effort must be focused towards the building of human capacity. To be able to respond to and to meet the increasingly complex development challenges faced by aquaculture, this effort must be directed at all levels, from the farm worker to the policy maker. At the present, a proposal for a potential cooperative regional strategy to meet these needs is being prepared within the cooperative aquaculture education project of APEC/NACA/Deakin University.

Major shifts, changes in regional policies that influence aquaculture development

The two major influences are the broadening of the aquaculture development objectives from economic to social, which focuses on poverty alleviation, livelihood development and food security, and the links made between sustainable aquaculture practices and trade.

Poverty alleviation and food security

Throughout the region, the expressed national goals and priorities concerning aquaculture have invariably included and even emphasized social goals. The key issue concerning this topic has been in respect of the emphasis given to commercial and/or export-oriented aquaculture, on the one hand, and to the small-scale food security oriented activities on the other. Both the levels and the balance of the support given to either subsector are part of this issue. It has to be said that increasing recognition is being given to the importance of small-scale, socially oriented aquaculture. Initiatives have been made recently at the regional level to focus the attention of both government and regional organizations on this issue.

Environment and trade

The role of the fish farmer is changing from merely that of a producer to being an integral part of a chain for the production and delivery of high-quality food products to the consumer. Hazards can be introduced within the chain at the production stages on the farm, and these can be spread during processing and preparation. The means of assuring food safety can be difficult to determine when certain microbial hazards can cause diseases in humans but not in fish, as is the case for some naturally occurring pathogens.

  While the implementation of safety assurance programmes is well advanced in the fish-processing sector, the application of such programmes at the fish-farm level is a new approach. The application and enforcement of HACCP regulations at the production level could cause significant difficulties for Asian farmers unless major efforts are made to develop technologies and methodologies for the reduction of potential risks.

Production practices and trade

The link made between production practices and their impact on both the environment and trade has been reflected in recent regional and national programmes. Some of the measures that have been started include environmental impact assessments, the development of guidelines to implement the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) and the development of policies on zoning and integrated coastal zone management (ICZM). These measures are being developed and achieved seriously and in a concerted manner.

Main impacts of other sectors on aquaculture and of aquaculture on other sectors

Impacts of the external environmental on aquaculture

These may be positive or negative. Nutrient enrichment of water bodies may provide nutrients that are beneficial to aquaculture production in some extensive culture systems (e.g. seaweeds, molluscs). However, excessive loadings with urban and industrial wastes can have severe consequences for aquaculture operations, particularly shellfish culture, when exposed to contamination by toxic pollutants, pathogens and phycotoxins. Contamination of coastal waters with phycotoxins associated with plankton blooms has caused major losses in East Asia in recent years (Hong Kong and China, in particular).

With increasing aquatic pollution and the physical degradation of aquatic habitats by other non-aquaculture developments, aquaculturists face the risks of mass mortalities of farmed stock, disease outbreaks, product contamination and reduced availability of wild seed or broodstock.




Impacts of aquaculture on the environment

Many types of aquaculture can contribute positively to environmental improvement. The recycling of nutrients and organic matter through integrated farming systems has long been recognized as being environmentally sound and is still widely practised in the region. Recent developments in Integrated Pest Management (for example, through NGO interventions in Bangladesh) have shown how rice-fish culture can help farmers reduce the use of environmentally damaging pesticides. The use of wastewaters for freshwater aquaculture, mollusc and seaweed farming can recover excess nutrients, thereby reducing risks of eutrophication. In programmes for the restoration and recovery of endangered fish species and stocks, hatcheries and aquaculture systems have been used both to provide a temporary sanctuary and to increase numbers of individuals for re-introduction into the wild.

Negative impacts have been associated mainly with intensive and monoculture systems, the effects of which can include nutrient and organic enrichment of recipient waters, resulting in a build-up of anoxic sediments, changes in benthic communities and the eutrophication of lakes. In some areas, large-scale shrimp culture has resulted in degradation of wetlands, localised water pollution and salination problems. The misapplication of chemicals, the collection of seed from the wild, the introduction of exotic species and the overuse of fishery resources as feed inputs are topics that have also raised concern in some locations.

Such problems have focused attention on the development of appropriate management strategies that, in some cases, have had trade implications for aquaculture products (mainly shrimp) traded on international markets. Thailand, for example, is now looking into a “certification” process for marketing shrimp aquaculture products that are produced in environmentally sound ways.

Impacts of aquaculture on aquaculture

This intra-sectoral issue has raised quite specific problems that have been particularly acute in intensive cage culture and shrimp culture. These concern self-pollution and the transmission of diseases that have occurred in areas where the high density of farms requires the use of water that has been contaminated by neighbouring

  installations. In some cases, significant losses of farmed stocks have occurred, significantly affecting financial returns. Encountering self-pollution problems at least provides farmers with very strong incentives to improve environmental management. Indeed, several regional countries have made significant changes to their management practices designed to reduce disease risks, which have apparently led to reductions in negative environmental impacts. Examples include the closed and recirculation shrimp farming systems.

Other interactions with aquaculture

There are a variety of interactions between aquaculture and other sectors, which include capture fisheries, agriculture, forestry (including coastal mangrove forests), industry, tourism and navigation. As in the case of environmental interactions, these may also be positive or negative.

In Malaysia, there is a growing interest to integrate some aquaculture operations with tourism (e.g. marine cage culture and put-and-take fishing ponds in Sarawak). Much inland aquaculture is carried out in agricultural areas and is, therefore, well integrated into agricultural farming systems, adding value to the total farm output and, in some cases, making best use of on-farm resources.

In some coastal areas, some significant conflicts have arisen. For example, social conflicts have occurred between rice farmers and shrimp aquaculturists in areas of Bangladesh. Such situations, while generally not well documented, suggest that more attention will have to be given to techniques of conflict management. Given that interactions between coastal aquaculture and other sectors are likely to increase due to rising population pressures in Asia’s coastal regions, more attention needs to be given to these important issues.

Australia is moving to resolve potential issues related to aquaculture “interactions” through the integration of sectoral interests. The plan is to develop a policy for integrated aquaculture development, within which the objectives would be:

  • to facilitate the establishment of a primary industry sector, at a national level, which would be the Australian Integrated Agri-Aquaculture Systems; and
  • to provide a strategic R&D focus for integrated agri-aquaculture systems.




These considerations would apply to all relevant activities, agencies and bodies, primary producers and individuals/companies active in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture.

Technological advances over the last decade

The standard that is usually set for technological development in aquaculture is livestock husbandry and, by this measure, aquaculture is way behind. The three commodities that have received intense regional R & D attention, particularly for breeding and culture techniques, are shrimp, tilapia and carps, while milkfish, seabass and catfishes have received less attention.

Genetic improvement of aquaculture species in Asia has been most advanced for tilapias and carps. Surprisingly, despite their high value, work on shrimp genetics in Asia has been confined to academic research although, more recently, several private ventures have expressed interest in such developments. Tilapia, although an introduced species, has become widely distributed in Asia. Recent advances in selective breeding and sex control in tilapia have had a major impact on farm procedures (G. Mair pers comm.).

The topic of feed development has seen some progress, and techniques to make feeds on the farm have been widely documented, improved and disseminated.

Research on mass seed production and hatchery systems has been successful for carps, tilapia, milkfish, freshwater prawn and indigenous freshwater species. Much remains to be done for marine shrimp (particularly on broodstock development), grouper (especially mass seed production) and mangrove crab (also mass seed production).

The development of new species (particularly marine species) and aquaculture technologies is a key strategy for several Asian countries. The development and implementation of best management practices (BMP) will also require more attention, and it is considered that management of the complete farming system will become more important. A further issue is that, as a wider number of species are considered for aquaculture, research needs will increase and require more investment in R and D facilities and projects.

  Techniques for disease diagnosis, as well as products and methodologies for prevention and control, have only recently been developed and applied in the field, largely because of the occurrence of viral shrimp diseases. The problems encountered have highlighted the importance of having healthy seed in sufficient quantities to support the development of aquaculture.

Quality concerns are also important in inland freshwater aquaculture, such as in carp culture, where genetic deterioration and poor quality seed have affected the performance of freshwater aquaculture, and in some other species, such as milkfish. Work on seed quality improvement has been relatively limited but, with few exceptions, clear guidelines on the characteristics of high-quality seed are available. In most cases, demand usually outstrips supply, at least on a seasonal basis. In such circumstances, there is little to no possibility of introducing more strict quality demands.

Trends in public support to the sector

Following the Kyoto Conference of 1976, a major change that occurred was the increase in government support to aquaculture. Regional cooperation was enhanced and organizational structures were put in place to transform aquaculture from a traditional practice to a more science-based activity. Governments in the region have recognized the role of aquaculture as an important food provider and income earner. Government planning and development increased, elevating aquaculture to a status close to that of capture fisheries.

Active steps are now being taken to encourage the involvement of the private sector in providing services to the industry. These services include the production and distribution of seed, postharvest practices and marketing, and research and development. Governments do recognize, however, that strategic services need more support, such as central hatcheries for broodstock maintenance and development and research and development programmes directed towards the small-scale aquaculture sector.

Resource utilization: patterns and trends

The growing scarcity of land-based resources is prompting the sector to look for alternative sites for aquaculture. Maritime countries are investigating the use of offshore waters, while other




areas of investigation include derelict water bodies and wastelands, impounded water bodies and, although not new, irrigated rice lands for rice-fish culture. Increasing interest is being paid to ofshore cage culture, and a number of countries (including Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand) are making serious attempts to apply this system.

India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are improving management systems for inland open water bodies, while China has good technology for culture-based lake and reservoir fisheries. Integration in small-scale aquaculture is being promoted for greater farm productivity and to lower risks.

For a number of reasons, it appears inevitable that there will be an increase in the acreage of impounded waters in the region. Once in place, such waters need to be used for aquaculture purposes to an increasing extent, whether for culture-based fisheries, cage culture or a combination of both. Most countries recognize this to be a relatively uncontroversial way of increasing fish production through aquaculture. Culture-based fisheries have the additional advantage that the rearing process is of least environmental disturbance. Key examples can be found in China, which has substantially increased its yields from culture-based fisheries.

Main constraints and opportunities for further development for the sector

Policy constraints

  • Short-term leases of the public water bodies for aquaculture development inhibits planning and development.
  • Research emphasis is on short-term economic returns rather than a balance with long-term social benefits.
  • Lack of or weak implementation of zoning policies.
  • Lack of clear guidelines to address issues such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), non-trade barriers, food safety, and externalities from production and resource use.

Resource constraints

  • Multiple use and multi-ownership of ponds and other water bodies.
  • Limited access to public water bodies for pen and cage culture.
  • Increasing pollution, shortage of feeds, disease incidence, and intensification problems (health and feed).

Institutional constraints

  • Weak institutional capabilities of aquaculture extension agencies, including government organizations and NGOs, also weaken the transfer of technology.
  • Too many government organizations and NGOs are involved in aquaculture support services, duplicating and overlapping activities.
  • Limited access of the sector to commercial credit.
  • Technology transfer mechanisms are weak.
  • Research-related constraints, including resources, skilled researchers, facilities, coordination among institutions and workers, and poor linkage between basic and applied research and between research and production sectors.
  • Weak links between research and development activities in the freshwater aquaculture sector.

Socio-economic constraints

  • High investment costs.
  • Land use conflicts.
    Lack of security of investments.
  • Legal constraints.
  • Lack of access to resources and security of tenure or user rights.
  • Lack of incentives for entrepreneurs.
  • Lack of adequate guidelines for responsible aquaculture.
  • Lack of unified regulations on use of resources by aquaculture.

Technical constraints

  • Absence of statistics and information on different types of water bodies and weak statistics and databases for aquaculture production by different farming systems.
  • Lack of infrastructure for fish feed manufacture and distribution in different parts of the region.
  • Lack of technology for the diversification of aquaculture systems.
  • Inadequate manpower for research and extension services.
  • Lack of well-trained manpower to manage or operate aquaculture projects.




  • Inadequate and unreliable supply of quality fish seed.
  • Lack of markets for some aquaculture commodities.
  • Lack of technology for postharvest practices and value addition.
  • Fish health management capacities are inadequate.
  • Increasing scarcity and decreasing quality of water resources.

Financial constraints

  • Lack of government resources to fund development projects.
  • Lack of investment guidelines for the private sector.
  • General perception of aquaculture as a high-risk or non-bankable investment.

Outlook and prospects

The issues that have been covered within this paper are the demands made of aquaculture, its ability to fulfil these demands, the threats to that ability and the opportunities to overcome these threats. These opportunities have been articulated by governments into a development plan for Asia, made at the regional workshop to formulate the Asian aquaculture development strategy for 2000-2020 conducted by NACA in September 1999. The governments envisage aquaculture to be “a major provider of food and applied to reducing societal disparities and inequities.” Based on this vision, the mission will be:

  • to fulfil the aspirations of all sectors of the populace, through a people-oriented approach and focusing on aquaculture for development;
  • to develop aquaculture in a responsible manner and in harmony with the environment;
  • to transform the emphasis of aquaculture from being an activity that is resource-dependent towards being knowledge-based; and
  • to continue the pursuit of shared governmental objectives through regional cooperation and to strengthen the existing spirit and substance of this.

Development goal

The development objective of the plan is to improve the quality of life of the people in the aquaculture sector and to help strengthen the social and economic status of the Asian countries/territories

  through the assurance of food security, the alleviation of poverty, the improvement of livelihoods, and increasing the net worth of the national economies.

Strategic objectives

To achieve the mission and the development goal, the plan will pursue the following strategic objectives:

To improve aquaculture technology and farming systems

The continued development of farming systems and technology is essential and imperative. There is a need to improve farming technologies, to encourage integrated farming and crop diversification, and to increase the focus on improving efficiency and the optimal use of resources, achieving these through technological advancement and possible mechanization. Major challenges to meet this objective relate to securing and efficiently providing the inputs required for the different aquaculture systems.

To assure the availability of good quality seed

A major constraint to increasing the productivity of farming systems is widely recognized to be the inadequate supply of good quality seed. Emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of the role of local hatchery production, alongside quality certification and accreditation of seed and the development of strategies to further improve seed quality. The development of breeding and hatchery technology, genetic improvement and domestication are additional key objectives for securing the seed supply for major aquaculture species.

To improve efficiency in the use of feed and fertilizer

The efficient use of feed and fertilizer inputs, particularly through the use of readily available local raw materials, and the minimization of environmental impacts, is highlighted; fishmeal replacement, improvements in feeds and feeding technology and the development of environmentally friendly, low pollution feeds need to be tackled. Concerns over the incorporation of GMOs as feed ingredients will also be addressed.




To improve availability and access to financial resources for aquaculture investments

This objective will address the development and supply of suitable incentives for aquaculture (for example, tax credit schemes) and include the creation of a more conducive environment for adequate insurance, the provision of long-term land tenure (to increase certainty for investors) and investigate ways of encouraging more private-sector participation in the financing of aquaculture development.
In terms of access to financial resources, schemes will be developed for the simplification of credit arrangements for farmers and improving the coordination between financial and technical agencies. The plan will pay particular attention to the small-scale farming sector.

To reduce the social and economic impacts of aquatic animal diseases

Diseases cause significant economic losses, and the prevention and control of disease will remain an important issue. The objective is the continued development and implementation of government quarantine and health certification measures; these will include monitoring and surveillance programmes, contingency planning and emergency responses, establishment of diagnostic capability and methodology standardization. The plan will encourage a shift from governmental health management and control towards preventive husbandry and on-farm health management. Focus will be given specifically to health measures that can be used by rural farmers.

To make efficient use of land and water resources

Such a strategy needs to address the likely reduction, in most countries in the region, of the availability of water and land resources for aquaculture. The objective is to find ways to make more efficient use of water resources and to maintain the region’s lead role in global aquaculture. Appropriate systems that offer good scope for increasing the productivity of agricultural land, such as integrated farming, will be developed and promoted.

In some countries, there may be scope for enlarging the sites available to aquaculture by employing unused or under-utilized areas (e.g. inland saline areas, coastal and offshore marine farming). Culture-based fisheries should also be given more

  attention as a viable means of increasing and improving the use of inland lakes, reservoirs and river water resources.

To improve environmental management and the image of aquaculture

Improvement of farmer education and awareness, the development and implementation of Codes of Practices and the development of low impact farming systems are subjects that need more attention.
In respect of the public perception of aquaculture, community and local authority education on aquaculture issues is needed to be able to provide a balanced picture of the environmental interactions of aquaculture. Environmental impacts on aquaculture are likely to be of increasing concern. Important issues to be addressed include:

  • establishment of effective monitoring and management programmes;
  • regulation of land-based sources of pollution; and
  • protection of aquaculture from the adverse impacts of agricultural, domestic, and industrial activities.

To create an enabling policy environment for sustainable aquaculture

Promotion should be made for the further development of government policies that support aquaculture and its development. These should include policy issues relating to the identification and zoning of suitable aquaculture areas and sites, integrated planning (e.g. watershed, lake and coastal planning), and the provision of infrastructure, investment facilities and support activities.

Rather than being actively involved in production, regional governments will increasingly play the role of facilitating development through the creation of an “enabling environment” for sustainable aquaculture.

To promote responsible development of aquaculture through a progressive legal framework

As pressures increase on resource use, legal and institutional instruments are needed for the recognition of aquaculture as a distinct agricultural sector, which is integrated in resource use and development planning.




Legislation is also required for the protection of consumers through improved food safety and quality measures that meet international standards and improve aquaculture management.

To improve the human resource base to manage and operate aquaculture development

There has been substantial investment in training and education programmes but, if development needs are to be achieved, there is a continuing requirement to improve both the number and quality of human resources. A greater emphasis is required for the improvement of extension support, education and training at all levels, career planning and institutional capacity building. The previous focus on technical training will have to be increased, and emphasis will also need to be given to nontechnical training; such as the development of communication skills. The significant human resource development needs will probably be best met through improved cooperation between the providers of education and training.

To improve the flow of knowledge

Activities that improve communication and networking within the region were highlighted as an important means of developing and communicating the knowledge base of aquaculture. Advances in electronic communication, combined with specific cooperative efforts, should be used to increase the information exchange in the region.

To enhance and maintain social harmony

Stakeholder conflict concerning resource use will have to be approached through the better use of conflict management strategies; this should be accompanied by a decentralized and participatory approach to development planning and resource management.


To increase participation of farmer associations and the private sector in aquaculture development

The private sector will continue to play a major role in aquaculture development, but there is a need for better cooperation between aquaculturists to deal with the numerous issues, problems and constraints.

The involvement of farmers’ associations on a national and regional basis and the encouragement of private-sector participation in aquaculture development will be a key component for success in the coming years.

To move towards a market-based production system

Although the regional and global demand for aquaculture products is expected to increase, it was recognized that there is a need for the sector to move towards a market-oriented approach to the activity, rather than basing development on production. One of the means of achieving this objective is to examine the existing and potential markets for aquaculture products, both within and outside the region, and investigate ways of maximizing intra-regional trade.

To improve quality and image of aquaculture products

The potential role of HACCP, its application to production systems, the use of drugs and chemicals, appropriate processing and storage technology, and the nature of market/consumer demand are all topics that require investigation and elaboration. Fish handling and postharvest technology could also be improved for the reduction of wastage and the improvement of farm incomes.

For each strategic objective, indicative activities have been identified that will require different kinds of support and implementing mechanism to be achieved. The relevant recommendations of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium will be incorporated into the Asian Aquaculture Development Strategy.





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1 [email protected]

2 For the purposes of this review, the Asian countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China (Peoples Republic of China), Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Hong Kong (China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan Province of China, Thailand and Viet Nam.

3 In this review China refers to the Peoples Republic of China.

4 Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

5 Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

6 China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China.

7 Afganistanh and Islamic Republic of Iran.

8 In this review Hong Kong refers to China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

9 Average from 1995 to 1997.

10 Regional workshops organized under the auspices of FAO and/or NACA.

11 Project led by NACA and FAO, with additional support and participation from OIE and several international and regional agencies and national institutions.