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77. Following the discussions, the workshop recommended follow-up actions which could be taken at national and regional level.

National level follow-up actions and priorities

78. Bangladesh: Follow-up actions should include a more extensive and thorough inventory and preparation of a prospectus of the seaweed resources in the country. Bangladesh also proposed to: introduce appropriate Gracilaria species (i.e. G. edulis) from Myanmar or India for culture in shrimp ponds; study the extraction of phycocolloids from Hypnea spp. and other important species found in Bangladesh; and test the culture of Hypnea spp. in shrimp ponds as a means of improving water quality. The assistance of a taxonomist and a culturist will be needed. Samples of Hypnea spp. could be sent to the Biopolymer Research Unit (BRU) in Thailand for determination of yield and quality of the colloid. Results of the programme will be published to attract the interest of prospective entrepreneurs.

79. China: Follow-up genetic studies aimed at developing new varieties of Gracilaria spp. with fast growth and high agar quality and tissue culture studies to improve spore collection techniques, are planned.

80. India: Improving the yield and agar quality of G. edulis will be a priority follow-up activity. Experimental culture in different areas will be conducted using different techniques to develop commercial-scale culture of the species. Other seaweed species, such as Hypnea spp., will be studied for their potential for culture.

81. Indonesia: The present study will be expanded to formulate a sound basis for planning and establishing a national agar industry. The project will focus on Lampung, West Java and Central Java. A more thorough survey of the Gracilaria species in the country will be conducted. A field guide for taxonomic identification, as well as the assistance of a taxonomist and training in taxonomy for local scientists, is required.

82. Iran: In line with the overall programme to develop Iranian aquaculture, seaweed resources will be surveyed to determine species for culture and suitable sites. The assistance of a taxonomist and culture expert will be required. The planned start of initial activities is August 1995.

83. Malaysia: There is a need to set up a complete seaweed laboratory to screen species with commercial potential, conduct research on culture, post-harvest and quality improvement of products from phycocolloids. Research will include control of epiphytes in Gracilaria spp. culture ponds as well as control of predators in open water culture sites. Inventory studies of species and site selection and habitat suitability will be conducted.

84. Information on population genetics, biotypes and ecotypes of tropical seaweeds are lacking and Malaysia plans to adopt molecular taxonomy for further confirmation of the identified species. As a follow-up to the regional study, confirmation of the identified Gracilaria species will be needed, for which a taxonomist is requested for attachment with the Fisheries Research Institute, Penang. Collaboration will be worked out with the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Technical advice on setting up a small-scale processing plant (capacity of 50–200 tonnes dried seaweed per day) is requested. Further training for two local scientists in taxonomy, culture and processing is also planned.

85. Myanmar: The follow-up programme to this regional study will include confirmation of the identified Gracilaria species and research on processing techniques and purification of products. Better culture techniques to attain higher yields will be included in farming systems studies. Further training of research and field personnel will also be needed. A seaweed research team could be organised to develop and conduct a research programme aimed at further developing the local processing industry by obtaining an adequate, reliable and high quality supply of raw materials to produce high quality products for domestic and export markets.

86. Philippines: Immediate needs include training in processing, specifically on the chemistry of agarophytes, for the purpose of developing new value-added products. Training and expert assistance is required. The follow-up programme to this regional project includes: (i) continuing the research on processing and agar extraction techniques suitable for each of the Gracilaria species identified as suitable for culture and maintaining standard qualities; (ii) introduction of village-level processing techniques; (iii) follow-up studies on taxonomy and ecology; (iv) further development of culture techniques; and (v) continuing studies on stock assessment of the seaweed resources of the country. The Philippines plans to establish a research and development centre for seaweeds to serve national needs and which could also become a regional resource centre for collaborative activities.

87. Sri Lanka: A national study on the taxonomy and ecology of commercially important seaweed species in Sri Lanka is planned. The programme will include biofiltration and phytosanitation as effluent (particularly from the growing shrimp farming industry) is becoming a problem, and polyculture studies with other aquatic species. Training and advice on taxonomy and ecology are requested.

88. Thailand: The regional project has identified three species for further development, namely, G. fisheri, G. tenuistipitata and G. firma. The scope of the follow-up project will include: a more intensive ecological assessment of these species; stock assessment and management; development of culture techniques (including polyculture); and development of other applications of algae that include bio-filtration or bio-remediation in shrimp farms, feed for aquaculture species such as abalone, and biotechnologically-enhanced products. The proposed programme will require training as well as advice on ecological studies and stock assessment techniques, taxonomy (particularly molecular taxonomy), culture methods and farming systems. Co-operative research on biotechnology is planned.

89. Vietnam: The national follow-up plan to the regional project includes: a more intensive taxonomic and resource inventory of all seaweed species; development of culture techniques for the species that have been identified as having good growth rates and high quality agar; and application of better processing techniques to produce higher quality standards of agar for the growing domestic market and the requirements of the international market. Vietnam requests assistance in establishing a centre for Gracilaria research and development to co-ordinate and conduct the national programme and to serve as the national focal point for regional collaborative research. The Research Institute of Marine Products in Hai Phong has been identified as the host institution for such a centre.

Regional co-operation

90. Following the presentation of national priorities, the country representatives and resource persons considered future directions for regional co-operation in support of the national efforts for further development of Gracilaria culture and processing. The analysis of needs showed that there were several common areas of interest, particularly in training (in taxonomy, culture and processing), but also in research and requests for certain technical assistance.

91. The national studies and identified national needs have also shown that countries were at different stages in the development of research capacity and their Gracilaria industries. The analysis of capacities and needs showed that there was good potential to use the existing centres within the region, such as exist in China, the Philippines and Thailand, to assist countries less well developed in their research capacity or seaweed industries, using the principle of Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (TCDC). It was also recognised that expertise and appropriate technical assistance from countries and institutions outside of the region was still needed in some technologies and skills. The objective of such activities would be for countries to become self-reliant in the taxonomic, ecological, culture and processing studies of Gracilaria and other economically important seaweeds.

92. In view of the above, the workshop participants considered that it was important to enhance regional co-operation, emphasising TCDC and through working together to exchange experiences and solve common problems. The workshop emphasised that proper and effective co-ordination of regional activities was vitally important for accelerated development of the seaweed industry in the region. The workshop recognised the valuable regional co-ordinating role played by NACA, and requested NACA to co-ordinate the regional seaweed programme.

93. The further upgrading of expertise and manpower through appropriate training was considered a high priority. The training activities could be undertaken at national and regional level. The following priorities were identified:

It was further requested that NACA co-ordinate the organisation of assistance to the national training courses, through provision of suitable expertise and information.

94. The workshop recognised a number of important research priorities, which could be undertaken through a regional co-operative programme. There was a need for the selection of fast- growing seedstocks with high quality agar. The importance of further studies of the performance of local strains and species was recognised, particularly under culture conditions. The workshop emphasised that further attention should also be given to the development of research methodologies for such work, particularly in countries where Gracilaria culture and research methodologies were less developed.

95. The workshop recognised that Gracilaria culture (and “searanching”) could contribute to environmental improvement in coastal waters (e.g. through cleaning up effluents, attraction of fish to culture areas). It was also noted that the culture of seaweeds with other species (polyculture and integrated farming) in coastal waters would contribute to a balanced use of natural resources, whilst increasing economic benefits to farmers from sustainable use of coastal resources. Such techniques could make an important contribution to the integrated management of coastal resources. As the techniques for this new form of coastal farming are not well developed, the workshop recommended co-operative research be undertaken for the development of integrated marine farming systems. The workshop also recognised the benefit of collation and dissemination of existing experiences through regional training and requested the implementation of this recommendation as soon as possible.

96. The workshop considered the need for improving post-harvest methods. The social and economic impact of Gracilaria culture to coastal communities could be improved considerably by: (i) development and promotion of methods for adding value to products through small-scale processing, which could be undertaken by farmers; and (ii) diversification of the products which could be processed from Gracilaria. The workshop considered that small-scale demonstration plants could be developed for the dissemination of technically feasible processing methods. Similarly, further research is necessary to extract suitable products, such as protein. The research would help enhance the productivity and utilisation of an important marine living resource for food and income.

97. In addition, further studies were necessary to quantify the species and strains of Gracilaria. New technology should be applied to further identify species and strains with the view of improving economic outputs from Gracilaria culture systems.

98. The workshop considered that information exchange should form an important part of the regional programme. There was a need for regular collation and dissemination of information on environmentally sound seaweed culture, and processing methodologies, perhaps through a regular newsletter. Attention should also be given to research methodologies and dissemination of results. Marketing and promotional efforts were also needed, keeping in mind potential market constraints. It was recommended that the UP Marine Science Institute database on seaweed, which has a very extensive collection of seaweed information, should be tapped for a regional seaweed information exchange under NACA's regional information programme.

99. The workshop noted that, in some cases, a low priority had been given to Gracilaria in national aquaculture development plans. In view of the potential benefits of Gracilaria culture, the workshop considered that further efforts should be made to sensitise governments and the private sector and to promote the benefits of seaweed culture. Promotional work was also required to encourage entrepreneurs to go into seaweed culture and phycocolloid extraction and processing.

100. The regional programme should also give emphasis to the provision of technical assistance to promote national self-reliance in Gracilaria research and development programmes.

101. The workshop considered that the regional programme should be based on existing centres within the region, which could be further strengthened as necessary. The workshop welcomed the initiative of the Government of Vietnam to establish a centre on Gracilaria culture and processing. The workshop suggested that the French government might be an appropriate source of technical assistance and requested that NACA approach the French government to enquire of this possibility. The workshop also noted that there were other centres within the region who might host training and research activities, including those in China, the Philippines and Thailand. In organising the regional programme, NACA was requested to make efficient use of such centres.

102. The workshop further considered the mechanisms for development of the regional programme. The importance of technical co-operation among developing countries (TCDC) was emphasised, which would be one effective mechanism for utilisation of manpower resources within the region.

103. It was also recognised that additional support would be required for follow-up activities. In recognition of the lead role played by the French government in supporting seaweed culture development within the region, the workshop requested the collaborative assistance of France. The French participants were requested to bring the recommendations of the workshop to the notice of the concerned authorities with a view to obtaining French government assistance to strengthen the regional programme. The workshop recommended that other donor governments and collaborating institutions should also be requested to further strengthen the regional effort in seaweed development.

104. The workshop further discussed the preparation of a monograph on Gracilaria, based on the results of the regional study and other related information generated by the workshop. The monograph would describe the present status of knowledge on taxonomy, species descriptions, ecology, distribution, processing technology (especially agar yield and quality) and status of culture - mainly based on information available from the present studies, resource papers and other available information. The participants felt the monograph would be extremely valuable to national development efforts. The workshop expressed some concern about the large amount of work involved, the limited availability of time and the need to synthesise the country reports to shorter documents. The workshop requested that NACA consider using any savings from the project to further hire personnel to assist with the task. NACA was requested to make the necessary arrangements to complete the monograph as a matter of urgency.


105. In summarising the above discussions, the workshop adopted the following recommendations for follow-up actions:

  1. In recognition of the potential contributions of Gracilaria culture, as well as that of other economic seaweeds, for social and economic uplifting of coastal communities and environmental improvement, the workshop recommended that national governments give priority to further strengthening programmes in each country to upgrade facilities for seaweed research and development. Priority should also be given to promoting the culture and processing of Gracilaria and other seaweeds. If not already established, each country should establish a research laboratory and culture and processing facilities to continue research and development on the processing and quality of their identified Gracilaria resources.

  2. In support of the national programmes, and in view of the benefits of a regional co-operative approach, the workshop recommended that a regional programme be developed by NACA. The workshop further recommended that NACA should ensure that the regional co-operative programme make efficient use of regional institutions and expertise.

  3. The workshop recommended that the regional programme on seaweed culture should give emphasis to the following aspects:

    Training priorities:

    Research priorities:

    Information exchange:

    Technical assistance to upgrade national capacity:

  4. In implementing the programme, the participants recommended continued full utilisation of the two regional referral centres, on taxonomy and processing. The programme should further expand to include other centres with expertise, such as SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department, UP Marine Science Institute, the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute, and other regional centres.

  5. In support of the regional and national programmes, the workshop recommended that NACA seek the collaborative assistance of the French Government, and other concerned agencies to meet the needs of the governments and private sector, as identified during the workshop. The participants further requested the participants from France to provide their support to the recommendations and to bring them to the attention of their respective agencies and government authorities. The workshop further recommended that NACA seek the collaborative assistance of FAO.

  6. The workshop further recommended NACA to give high priority to the use of TCDC mechanisms for support to the national programmes; it was strongly recommended that Cambodia, whose development efforts could be further assisted by the development of its seaweed resources, be included in the regional seaweed development programme.

  7. The workshop requested NACA to organise the early publication and dissemination of the monograph on Gracilaria taxonomy, ecology, processing and culture. It recommended that any savings from the project be used to fund the preparation and publication of this important output from the project, and also to fund the other urgent follow-up activities as noted above.

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