Aquaculture Development Beyond 2000:
Global Prospects1
Keynote Address II

Jiansan Jia2, Ulf Wijkstrom,
Rohana Subasinghe & Uwe Barg

Fisheries Department, FAO, Rome, Italy

Jia, J., Wijkstrom, U., Subasinghe, R.P. & Barg, U. 2001. Aquaculture development beyond 2000: global prospects, Keynote Address II. 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. 9-12. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.

ABSTRACT: Over the past three decades, aquaculture has developed to become the fastest growing food production sector in the world; it has expanded, diversified, intensified and technologically advanced. Its potential contribution to local food security and livelihoods can be very significant, especially in remote and resource-poor areas. To attain its full potential to contribute to human development and social empowerment, the aquaculture sector may require new approaches. These could vary with countries, and the challenge is to develop approaches that are realistic and achievable in the context of current social, economic, environmental and political circumstances. Such approaches should not only focus on increasing production; they should focus on producing a product that is affordable, acceptable and accessible to all sectors of society. The concerns and needs to be addressed will include increasing the emphasis on aquaculture and aquafarmers in national development plans to enhance institutional and financial support to the sector; providing an enabling environment with appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework to facilitate access to key development resources such as money and knowledge; stimulating investments in aquaculture development; producing products in the acceptable manner for specific consumer preferences and complementing the efforts of other food production sectors; involving the participation of all stakeholders in decision making and policy planning; and broad and closer cooperation among stakeholders, countries and regions. In sum, the prospects for aquaculture development are bright and envisaged expectations are achievable. Their achievement can be ensured by creating the appropriate environments for improved support to producers, enhanced participation, strengthened networking, better information and regional and global cooperation.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture development, Global trends, Regional trends, Future outlook, Sustainable aquaculture.




Professor Sena De Silva and Dr Laszlo Varadi – Joint Chairpersons, Members of the Panel,

Fellow Participants.

It is my pleasure to be here today, at this Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, to deliver this Second Keynote Address entitled “Aquaculture Beyond 2000: Global Prospects”.

During the last Keynote Address, Dr. Pillay elaborated the journey from Kyoto to Bangkok. Dr. Subasinghe’s Introduction covered the scope and purpose of the Conference. In my Keynote, I do not intend to provide you with a detailed analysis of specific trends in the aquaculture sector. They will be covered by the regional and global trends reviews and the thematic reviews that will be presented over the next few days.

Rather, in this Keynote Address, I will attempt to look at some broad global trends, key issues and constraints, and important challenges and development prospects for the future, in realising the full potential of aquaculture for humankind. I would like you to debate, discuss and consider these “Food for Thought” ideas over the next few days, in order to achieve our objectives of the Conference.

In my presentation, I attempt to cover, briefly, within the given 25 minutes or so, the following:

  • Short introduction and an overview of the aquaculture sector today;
  • Major trends and issues – where do we stand?;
  • Future aquaculture development – prospects and outlook; and
  • Conclusions.

Introduction and overview

Over the past three decades, aquaculture has developed to become the fastest-growing food-producing sector in the world. Aquaculture has expanded, diversified, intensified and advanced technologically and, as a result, its contribution to aquatic food production has also increased significantly. Aquaculture is highly diverse and consists of a broad spectrum of systems, practices and operations ranging from simple backyard, small-household pond systems to large-scale, highly intensive, commercially oriented practices. A large proportion of aquaculture production comes from small scale producers in developing countries and Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs).

  Thus, this sector contributes to food security, poverty alleviation and social well-being in many countries. The contributions of aquaculture to trade, both local and international, have increased over the past decades, and its share in the generation of income and employment for national economic development has increased in many countries.

The world population is on the increase, as is the demand for aquatic food products. Production from capture fisheries at a global level is levelling off, and most of the main fishing areas have reached their maximum potential. Global fish supply could be increased through reduction of discards and better use of by-catch for human consumption, e.g. use of at least part of the catch now going for reduction to fishmeal and fish oils. Better management of fishery resources and enhanced efforts to protect fishery resources from accelerating environmental degradation, particularly in inland waters and estuaries, may well contribute to sustained, if not enhanced, fish supplies in the medium to long term.

However, aquaculture appears to have stronger potential to meet the increasing demands for aquatic products in most regions of the world. Potential contributions from aquaculture to local food security and livelihoods can be highly significant, especially in many remote and resource-poor rural areas. However, it appears that the full potential of the aquaculture sector to contribute to human development and social empowerment is yet to be realized, and the sector may require new approaches to realize its goals beyond 2000. These approaches will undoubtedly differ between different countries, and depend on country-specific circumstances and national development plans, goals and aspirations. The challenge is to develop such approaches, which are realistic and achievable, within the context of current social, economic, environmental and political circumstances. Such approaches should not focus only on increasing production; they should also focus on producing a product that is affordable, acceptable and accessible to all sectors of society.

Major trends and issues – where do we stand?

Aquaculture is an activity that produces nutritious, high-value species using sophisticated systems; a mechanism for local food security, rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation; and a sector that provides both income (local and foreign exchange), employment and food security.




Aquaculture is an income-generating activity. However, rapid sector growth has, in some instances, outstripped planning and regulatory activities. As a result, many areas have seen a regulatory rebound, with disproportionate requirements as resource use conflicts have occurred, resource scarcities have become more constraining, and demand for product quality and safety has increased significantly. Increasingly, some markets will consider additional product attributes, like environmental and social impacts of production. It may be necessary to redefine and/or reassess the respective roles of government and private sector, including producers’ associations and organizations, in managing aquaculture development.

In some regions, aquaculture faces a considerable problem with public perception. Yes, in some cases, aquaculture development has failed to keep up with, or meet, many environmental and socio-economic issues and expectations. Future aquaculture development needs to produce a product that is not only acceptable to the public and consumers in terms of price, quality and safety, but also in terms of environmental cost.

Development prospects and outlook

The constraints in farming can be highly complex and often of a technical/technological nature. However, the overall success of farming may depend largely on economic and social issues. The challenge will be to focus on meeting social needs – i.e. food security, poverty, livelihoods, community development etc., rather than solely trying to produce aquatic animals. While doing so, the sector should be well integrated into the overall development programme so that conflicts can be minimized. It is also important that necessary technical/technological means/solutions and capacity building needs are met for the future success of the sector. Aquaculture will continue to grow, but has to address the costs of production, quality and safety of products, international trade obligations and requirements, environmental concerns etc. More emphasis on investment, research, information and public education is needed. Challenges for increasing aquaculture’s contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and rural livelihoods will have to be met.

  The essential challenge for future aquaculture development will be to ensure that the full potential of aquaculture is realized, and that a nutritious, safe, high-quality product that is affordable, acceptable and accessible to all sectors of society, is produced. In doing so, we need to address the following needs and opportunities. We have to assist in feeding people in this millennium. This means investing in food security. Aquaculture can play a significant role in this respect.

We have to assist in social development, poverty alleviation and improving the livelihoods of people. In doing so, there is a need to increase emphasis on aquaculture and aqua-farmers in national social and economic development plans, with the view to enhance institutional and financial support for the sector. This can only be achieved through investing in human resources, including existing and future aquaculture practitioners, as well as government and non-government agencies and institutions. Investing in training, education, extension, information and communication are important in this respect. Use of modern information and communication tools and methods such as the Internet and other state-of-the-art communication methodologies will have to be given due consideration, as will the essential requirement to ensure broad-based public access, especially for farmers, to these sources of information.

We must create and provide an enabling environment, with appropriate policy and legal and institutional frameworks to facilitate access to key development resources, such as financial resources and knowledge. There is a strong need for greater emphasis on institutional support, that is, support not only to government ministries and public-sector agencies dealing with administration, extension and research and development, but also to organizations and institutions representing the private sector, consumers and other stakeholders.

Aquaculture development, especially if it is to be sustainable for food security goals, may need to be stimulated, at least in the beginning, so there should be a key point on increasing access to credit for farmers, producers and local marketing. It is important to understand the investment opportunities in the sector. In an era of globalization, it is imperative to emphasize national and international trends of trade. Trade of aquaculture produce, input supplies, capital and information are all important to mention and acknowledge.




Aquaculture is dependent on key natural resources such as water, land, seed and nutrients. There is strong pressure for production and marketing systems that are more efficient and more effective in terms of resource utilization. In this respect, we should invest in research on developing production and marketing systems with better resource utilization and more efficient performances.

During production, there should be emphasis on targeting the consumers. We must emphasize the difference between mass production and production for the masses. For example, formerly expensive produce such as salmon and shrimp are increasingly becoming affordable to larger segments of the population. We should compete with, and complement, other food-producing sectors and providers. Aquaculture produce should be acceptable to all sectors of society. Tremendous gains will be possible through improved biotechnology, genetic modification, improved nutrition, probiotics, and disease diagnosis and treatment. However, the problem of consumer resistance to perceived risks stemming from “unnatural” products, ethical problems and fear of unknown technologies will affect potential gain. Environmental and human health issues will slow development or reduce market access. Strategic solutions are required. We should emphasize biosafety issues, development and promotion of biotechnology that conserve the environment. We should promote policies that support ethical issues of welfare and autonomy, and emphasize labelling and transparency for production process and beneficiaries. There is a need to increase the impact of research to understand technical and other constraints and to enhance the applicability and use of research results in the development of strategies to overcome these challenges.

  Stakeholder participation and consultation in decision-making and policy planning for aquaculture development should be duly considered. Aquaculture’s potential for social empowerment should be harnessed, and the involvement of more women in aquaculture development should be given due respect. Trust between producers and consumers needs to be improved, and avenues must be found to achieve this. Public relations campaigns and labelling issues will have to be addressed. The role of regional and interregional cooperation in achieving the future development goals for aquaculture should be reviewed and strengthened. There are considerable opportunities to increase the impact on aquaculture development through continued regional and interregional cooperation. As agreed in 1995 by our Member Governments, in particular through the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), further strengthening of such cooperation is highly recommended.


The challenge for the new millennium should be sustainable aquaculture development for enhanced food security and economic development. Prospects for future aquaculture development are good! The envisaged expectations can be achieved! To ensure this, we must create appropriate environments for improved support to producers, enhanced participation, better networking and information exchange and strong regional and inter-regional cooperation.


1 This presentation did not intend to provide a detailed analysis of specific trends in the aquaculture sector. Instead, it attempted to look at some broad global trends, key issues and constraints, important challenges and development prospects for realising the full potential of aquaculture. These ideas or “Food for Thought” were debated, discussed and considered during the Conference. The views expressed in this manuscript are personal to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
2 The Keynote Address was delivered by Mr. Jiansan Jia. [email protected]