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4. Conclusions

4.1. Current dilemma

Throughout the region, captured and cultured marine fisheries continue to play an important role in the food security, poverty alleviation and economies of many countries. Marine fisheries resources have been largely overexploited, and as a result development of coastal aquaculture has been encouraged to provide the needed protein, income, employment, and export earnings for some countries. Such a policy trend implies, however, that sufficient food for cultured marine fisheries will be available. Inevitably, a dangerous spiral has evolved where the demand for low value/trash fish has supported increased fishing pressure on already degraded resources. This raises some important questions regarding the social, economic and ecological costs and benefits of this system, its sustainability and future trends.

Figure 7: The low value/trash fish spiral. Increasing demand, increased fishing, degraded resources and increased price

One obvious but important conclusion is that given the strong interdependency between capture fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region, management of these two subsectors cannot be carried out in isolation of each other. This interdependency raises many important questions. For example:

As highlighted in the report, there is an urgent need to understand the system better. This report has given some insights on how fisheries are evolving in the Asia-Pacific region, but questions, such as those raised above, remain unanswered. We now have an initial understanding and enough quantitative data to start addressing them and urge the research community to take up the challenge.

4.2. Future prospects

Estimated future demand is expected to rise given the continued growth in the aquaculture sector. The competition between the use of low value/trash fish for livestock and aquaculture production and human consumption will also likely continue to increase. Predictions of FAO in relation to overall fisheries production are portrayed in Table 10, and clearly depict the significant roles of both aquaculture production and non-food uses in the years to come.

Table 10: Lower and upper projection levels for 2010 (million tonnes)

Pessimistic scenario

Optimistic scenario

Capture fisheries



Aquaculture production



Total production



Less fish for non-food uses



Available for human consumption




As shown in Figure 7, interventions to slow down or halt the viscous spiral that has developed can be made at several points in the cycle. These include (i) Reduced use of low value/trash fish in livestock/fish feeds, (ii) reduced fishing effort, particularly trawling, (iii) more responsible fishing gear and practices, including juvenile/trash excluder devices (JTEDs) and (iv) better utilisation of the fish for human consumption.

Fishery interventions

1. reduce trawling and push net effort (and clearly monitor the effect of capacity reduction);
2. introduce improved selectivity of fishing gears/fishing practices;
3. facilitate reduction in "race for fish" through rights-based fisheries and co-management;
4. protect juvenile nursery areas (refugia/closed areas, seasonal closures); and
5. provide alternative social support measures (including employment).

Improved utilisation

1. improve post harvest fish handling; and
2. develop new fish products through processing.

Improve feeds for aquaculture

1. change over from direct feeding to pellet feeding;
2. reduce fish meal content by substitution of suitable ingredients in pellets;
3. invest in feed research for inland/marine species; and
4. promote adoption and change over to pellet feeds.

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