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A. Introduction

1. This Regional Study and Workshop on the Taxonomy, Ecology and Processing of Economically Important Red Seaweeds (GCP/INT/553/FRA) was one of the activities formulated during the Regional Workshop on Seaweed Development held in Cebu City, the Philippines in August 1990, under the auspices of the UNDP/FAO Regional Seafarming Demonstration and Development Project. The regional seaweed programme was absorbed by the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) after the termination of the Seafarming Project and it is now a component of NACA's holistic programme on environment and aquaculture development.

2. This regional study and workshop was supported by the Government of France Trust Fund with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and is one of three regional projects endorsed by IFREMER and implemented under GCP/INT/553/FRA. Of the other two projects, one is a study of ice-ice syndrome in seaweeds and the other is a project on small-scale colloid extraction and processing.

3. Nine countries from the region participated in the study, namely: Bangladesh; China; India; Indonesia; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Thailand and Vietnam. Iran and Sri Lanka prepared summary reports for the workshop, but did not participate fully in the study. Project activities commenced with a training-workshop, held from 21–28 April 1992 in Bangkok, on standard methods of seaweed taxonomy and analysis of phycocolloids. Eighteen participants (two from each country) were trained at the workshop and an action plan for the two-year study was formulated.

4. Red seaweeds of the genera Porphyra, Gracilaria and Eucheuma are important cultured seaweeds in the region, but in view of the common interest and regional importance of the Gracilaria seaweed, the training workshop recommended that the study focus on Gracilaria species.

The conclusions of the Training Workshop and the Plan of Action appear as Annex 1-1.

5. A project status review meeting in March 1994, consisting of NACA personnel and resource persons, subsequently recommended that the period of the study be extended. Accordingly, a request was made to FAO to extend the period of the study until January 1995 and for additional funds to support the research and conduct the final workshop. This request was granted.

6. This report presents the activities of the Final Workshop on the Taxonomy, Ecology and Processing of Commercially Important Red Seaweeds held at the Conference Room of the National Inland Fisheries Institute, Department of Fisheries, Kasetsart University Campus, Bangkok, Thailand from 24–27 January, 1995.

B. Attendance

7. Workshop participants included government personnel from the countries participating in the regional study, as well as representatives from the National Aquatic Research Agency (NARA) of Sri Lanka and the Iranian Fisheries Research and Training Organisation (IFRTO). Resource persons came from the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute of China, IFREMER and CNRS in France, University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute, UNDP/FAO Seaweed Production Development Project in the Philippines (PHI/89/004) and SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department in Iloilo, Philippines. Resource persons from Thailand represented the Biopolymer Research Unit of Srinakarinvirot University, the Faculty of Fisheries of Kasetsart University, the National Institute of Coastal Aquaculture, and the Chemical Goods Section of Bangkok Port Authority. Also represented were FAO RAP A, the Mekong Secretariat, the Science and Technology Centre of the French Embassy in Bangkok, Chulalongkorn University, the Department of Fisheries of Thailand, the private sector, and NACA. INFOFISH sent a resource paper on marketing and trade of agar.

The list of participants appears as Annex 1–2.

C. Opening ceremony

8. The workshop was opened by Dr. Kitjar Jaiyen, Deputy Director General of the Department of Fisheries, Thailand. He considered it significant that many of the activities being reported under this project have taken place through co-operation between the participating member countries of NACA. He disclosed that the efforts began with the FAO/UNDP Seafarming Project, under the NACA umbrella. He hoped that the results of the present study would be further utilised to expand Gracilaria and other seaweed culture and bring benefits leading to the improved socio-economic status of coastal communities in countries in the region, as envisaged under the holistic aquaculture development programme of NACA. Dr. Kitjar represents the Thai Government on the NACA Governing Council and was formerly its Chairman.

9. Dr Kitjar noted the enthusiasm and interest in this regional seaweed study among the country study participants and the unselfish expert assistance of the resource persons and their institutions. He expected that this spirit of co-operation would enable the successful conclusion of the study, the application of its results and the implementation of follow-up activities. He looked forward to the results contributing to the further development of the seaweed industry in Thailand and the other countries.

The welcoming and opening speech of Dr. Kitjar appears as Annex I-3a

10. Dr. Veravat Hongskul, Regional Fisheries Officer of FAO RAPA, noted that the study was a joint effort between FAO, NACA and the Government of France. He then cited recent production and trade figures to emphasise the importance of seaweed and focused on the rapid growth in red seaweed production in the Asia-Pacific Region, which he said has been stimulated by various scientific and development efforts of governments with the collaboration of FAO and UNDP. He mentioned the UNDP/FAO Seaweed Production Development Project in the Philippines as one example and noted that the Chief Technical Adviser of the project was participating as a resource person in the workshop.

11. Dr. Veravat said FAO is convinced that the future of the seaweed industry is bright and mentioned the numerous applications, both traditional and newly emerging, which would be further enhanced by research in biotechnology. He urged that research should also address problems associated with marketing products from seaweed. He looked forward to the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop for guiding future activities in promoting seaweed culture in the region.

Dr. Veravat's speech appears as Annex I-3b.

12. The Director of the Scientific and Technological Centre of the French Embassy in Bangkok, Mr. Alex Brayle, said he found it gratifying to see that the funds provided for the project through the French Government Trust Fund with FAO has enabled the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific and its participating countries in the region to complete an important aspect of the study on red seaweeds.

13. He envisaged that this study would stimulate the development of the agar industry in the region and thus further develop the economies of the countries with the production of valuable products. He noted the fruitful collaboration among the countries, which was enhanced by the guidance and expert inputs of scientists from various institutions that co-operated with NACA in the study.

14. He said that advanced technology and high applications of phycocolloids are available in developed countries, like France, and he was pleased that French experts from IFREMER, Universite Rene Descartes and University of Lille, are among the resource persons guiding the activities of the workshop, providing advice on the outputs and helping to evolve suitable follow-up activities.

M. Brayle's speech (delivered in French) appears as Annex I-3c.

15. The NACA Co-ordinator, Dr. Banchong Tiensongrusmee, welcomed the participants on behalf of the NACA Organisation. He said that the project is a clear example of the close and strong collaboration among various national sectors, including the academe and regional and international agencies, in a regional activity. He expressed NACA's gratitude to the French Government and FAO for their support of the project, the collaborating institutions, and the governments for their co operation in the implementation of the project. He looked forward to closer and continuing relationships with all concerned. Dr Banchong expected that the workshop, apart from the technical results which will be useful for developing the agar industries of countries, will also provide guidelines for future regional collaborative activities in seaweed development. NACA would be most keen to collaborate further with the participating countries and various regional and international organisations, he stated.

Dr. Banchong's speech appears as Annex I-3d.

D. Procedural matters

16. Dr. Gavino Trono, Jr. of the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines served as the workshop Chairman. The workshop agenda was adopted without revision.

The workshop agenda appears as Annex 1–4.

17. Dr. M. N. Kutty, NACA Senior Aquaculturist (Research and Training) explained the objectives and outputs of the workshop as well as the arrangements and procedures planned to achieve the objectives and produce the outputs. The objectives of the workshop were described as follows:

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