The discussions in the Workshop clearly showed that the countries in the region are at different levels of development so far as aquaculture is concerned. In some there is a long tradition of fish farming and through research and experimentation, improvements have been effected in the existing technology and new techniques have been evolved. In others, aqua-culture is in its early stages of development. The availability of trained technicians and scientific expertise also differs considerably between the countries. It is therefore obvious that effective regional, sub-regional and bilateral cooperation can be highly beneficial in the implementation of aquaculture development plans. This is particularly so because of the common systems of culture that are adopted and the similarity of problems faced by the industry.
Limited bilateral cooperation among the countries of the region, such as between Thailand and Bangladesh and between Malaysia and Thailand, has developed in recent years. Some of the bilateral aid-giving agencies of the U.S.A., Canada (including IDRC), New Zealand, Japan and China are supporting certain specific activities, particularly research and demonstration, in selected institutions and governments. The Workshop stressed the need for greater cooperation among countries of the region practising the same or similar culture systems and the exchange of personnel among them.
Research, education and training were identified as the major fields in which sub-regional, regional or inter-regional cooperation could be most effective. The Workshop reviewed the terms of reference of the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and noted that these are sufficiently comprehensive and flexible, although priority has been given to research on shrimp and milkfish farming research. The Center serves five out of the 25 developing countries in the region. The need and possibility of the establishment of a centre to serve all the countries of the region, a sub-regional centre to serve the countries not covered by SEAFDEC and even of an international institute on the lines of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banjos in the Philippines, was discussed in some detail, initially in a small working group and then in the plenary. As an alternative, the formation of a loose form of action-oriented "clearing house" arrangement was also discussed by the Workshop. Though the Workshop recognized the usefulness of duplication in certain types of work, unnecessary and unproductive duplication of efforts has to be avoided, especially in view of the limited finances and expertise available at the present time.
The practical difficulties in the establishment of a regional centre were recognized. Efforts made by the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council to organize research on high priority problems in the region through a voluntary Cooperative Programme of Research among national research centres did not yield very encouraging results. It has also not been possible to attract financial support for such a programme. There was general agreement that a regional centre to carry out multidisciplinary research of a long term nature, train higher categories of core personnel, provide assistance for the organization of pilot-scale operations, offer advisory services required by the countries of the region, assist in improving national expertise in undertaking feasibility studies, and act as a clearing house for technical and market information, would be a very effective support for the rapid development of aquaculture in the region. It was also agreed that such a regional centre need not necessarily be a new institution and that it will be preferable to expand and improve the facilities of an existing station or stations for the purpose. The effectiveness of such a centre will naturally depend on the ability of national centres to apply the techniques developed in the regional centre and undertake research on problems of a local nature, especially in adapting techniques to local needs. For this purpose national centres will have to be strengthened and a mechanism developed for the two-way flow of expertise and information between regional and national centres. It has to be ensured that the work programme of the regional centre is based on the development requirements of the national centres and consequently of the countries. A suitable mechanism for this may have to be established, such as an advisory board consisting of the heads of regional and national agencies and representatives of other concerned agencies in the countries.
The training of higher level core personnel will have to be arranged in the regional centre, and this training programme should be designed on the basis of manpower requirements for implementing development plans of the various countries. The national centres should be adequately manned and equipped to undertake institutionalized and in-service training of extension officers and lower categories of personnel required in the countries. In the light of these considerations, the Workshop agreed that what is urgently needed in the region is a "network" of regional and national centres with close linkages as described above.
The production and distribution of seed for aquaculture was identified by the Workshop as an area in which regional cooperation would be of great advantage. The possibility of a seed exchange programme was mentioned, but in view of the enormous and unsatisfied national seed requirements for expanded aquaculture, further study of this was considered necessary. The South China Sea Fisheries Development and Coordinating Programme is undertaking such a study in the South China Sea countries and the results will be watched with interest.
Although the technique of induced breeding of fish, particularly Chinese and Indian carps, was developed many years ago, this technique has not reached wide application in the region. The main constraints appear to be the inadequate availability of suitable brood fish, pituitary material, larval rearing facilities and expertise. Using the donation of two governments, the Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme is hoping to establish a pituitary bank shortly. If the "Regional Network" as proposed is established, the provision of technical assistance to needy countries for the establishment of fish breeding and larval rearing facilities and also for demonstrating the techniques and training local personnel, could form a part of its major functions. Provision of such assistance on an ad hoc basis pending the establishment of the "network" also needs to be considered.
Although diseases have not formed a major problem of regional importance until recently, with the wider adoption of high density culture and increasing intra-regional imports of fish seed, the dangers of the spread of different types of fish and shellfish diseases have become serious. There is an urgent need for greater efforts in the diagnosis, treatment and control of spread of communicable diseases for proper management of aquaculture stocks, and also to enable the region to effectively participate in the international convention for the control of fish diseases which is under the consideration of FAO Member Governments. If the "Regional Network" as proposed comes into being, a disease wing will have to be developed in the regional centre to undertake the necessary studies and provide assistance to the countries of the region as required.
The Workshop discussed the urgent need for studies on nutritional requirements of species used in the major aquaculture systems, and the formulation of feeds using inexpensive ingredients available locally. Regional cooperation was considered necessary in this field of work and the Regional Network, when established, should include this as a high-priority area of its work programme.
As a result of the worldwide interest in aquaculture and the great potential for expansion of the industry in Asia, many bilateral and multilateral aid-giving agencies are showing interest in supporting aquaculture in the region. A number of aid programmes are underway or are about to be started. Considering the massive support required to upgrade the aquaculture industry, and the limitations of expertise and funding available from different sources, there is very little likelihood of there being any surplus of aid in the region for a long time to come. But appropriate coordination of activities is essential to obtain the maximum benefit from them. Such coordination should start with the planning of activities and should be oriented to the concept of working together to implement a unified programme. The Workshop considered such overall coordination a major responsibility of the Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme (ADCP).
As described earlier, the Workshop stressed the need for the assistance of a multidisciplinary team for feasibility studies and the preparation of projects for financial and technical assistance. ADCP should give priority to this in its programme of work. As stated earlier, it should also develop a means of working more closely with the World Bank, Regional Banks, the FAO Bankers Group and ESCAP in order to facilitate and expedite financing of bankable aquaculture projects.
The major sources of assistance for aquaculture development in the region are expected to continue to be the UNDP, World Bank and Regional Banks. Almost all the national plans prepared during the Workshop indicate the need for increased UNDP assistance. As the country programming for the period 1977-81 has already started, the Fishery Departments have to take immediate action for the formulation of suitable projects. The existing UNDP/FAO national and regional projects could assist in the preparation of such projects. Additional assistance, where required, should be made available through ADCP. The needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) and particularly landlocked countries should receive particular attention and the special provision available in UNDP for funding projects in these countries should be fully utilized.