Subsistence-level and small commercial-scale aquaculture currently dominates the industry in most countries of the region. With the emphasis now laid by governments and international agencies on the development of the rural sector, the integration of aquaculture in rural development is receiving greater attention. As mentioned earlier, some of the countries, for example Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are considering aquaculture as an alternative form of employment for the excess manpower in the coastal fishing industry. Considering these factors, future development is likely to be based to a greater extent on small-scale enterprises.
Strict classification into small- and large-scale enterprises is often difficult and there are many intermediate categories. Production can be organized through small farmers, with a large company directly undertaking purchase of harvest, processing and marketing. The concept of a fish pond estate, a small holding to improve the standard of living of rural people, similar in character to a land reform programme, is under investigation in the Philippines. Fish culture has also been successfully integrated in community development programmes at the 'village' and 'block' levels in India.
In aquaculture development plans in Indonesia, the culture programmes have been classified into commercial and non-commercial and implemented accordingly. Export-oriented aquaculture in all the countries is commercial in nature and generally has to be organized on a large scale.
Large-scale culture operations have certain inherent advantages such as possible vertical integration, but it will ordinarily need large areas for culture and more capital and management skills. Due to the need for diversification, large companies that were in no way concerned with fisheries till recently are becoming involved in aquaculture production and marketing. Some government corporations are also already undertaking, or plan to start, such operations. The cooperative form of aquaculture development has been tried with a certain amount of success in some countries.
Fish seed production lends itself very well to large-scale development, although in countries like Indonesia a fish seed industry based on small subsistence-level operations exists. In fact, seed production has often been demonstrated as even more profitable than the production of table fish under certain circumstances.
The Workshop discussed in some detail the role of public and private sectors in aquaculture production, provision of support services and the development of auxiliary industries. Heavy involvement of the public sector in the organization of infrastructure and support services was considered essential for rapid development of the industry in all the countries. Auxiliary industries such as manufacture of feeds and aquaculture equipment and supplies may in most cases develop in the private sector, but governments have to provide the necessary incentives and research support, for example in the formulation of feeds and the design of equipment.
In the production phase of the industry, public, private and cooperative sectors can play major roles in the region. In the existing and future plans of development for most countries the public sector assumes a dominant role in the production and distribution of seed. As mentioned earlier, private and cooperative sectors will eventually become responsible for large-scale production, but even then government institutions will have the significant role of improving or maintaining the genetic quality of the seed and ensuring freedom from communicable diseases. Many of the countries in the region have established public sector corporations for fishery development and these corporations have many distinct advantages in undertaking large-scale culture, including joint ventures with the local or foreign companies. Successful state farms in China and East European countries indicate the level and pattern of operations possible in such enterprises.
The small farmer will continue to be the backbone of the aquaculture industry in the private sector and, as the cooperative movement becomes successfully established, the cooperative sector will become increasingly important. In this context the Workshop recognized the crucial importance of managerial skills in medium- and large-scale aquaculture ventures.
The possibilities for integrating aquaculture with agriculture and animal husbandry have special importance in this region as the majority of aquaculturists are also part-time farmers. Duck-cum-fish farming introduced in Nepal has yielded very encouraging results. The traditional practices of combining livestock rearing or rice cultivation with fish farming, which are on the decline, need to be revived and redesigned to suit modern culture requirements. It is estimated that there are about 10 million ha of deepwater rice in the region, most of which may be suited for fish culture as a combined culture or rotation crop. The heavy use of pesticides that is responsible for the decline of ricefield fish culture may cease to be a major constraint if stricter anti-pollution regulations are enforced.
As mentioned earlier, large private companies are getting interested in aquaculture and in a few countries small companies have been established for the culture of export-oriented crops. Government policies support the formation of such companies in most countries and the land reforms and land consolidation programmes mostly favour the establishment of such companies for aquaculture purposes.
The Workshop took note of the many opportunities for joint ventures in the aquaculture industry. The possibilities of joint ventures with private companies abroad are mainly for exportable products. The need for careful negotiations with foreign partners in order to protect the interests of the home country was stressed.