Previous page Top of Page Next Page

Appendix I

Summary Report of the Asia Regional
Scoping Workshop on Primary Aquatic
Animal Health Care In Rural,
Small-scale, Aquaculture Development

Held in

Dhaka, Bangladesh


27th - 30th September 1999



The first training workshop of the FAO/NACA regional technical co-operation programme (TCP) project "Assistance for Responsible Movement of Aquatic Animals in Asia" was held in Bangkok from 16th - 20th January 1998. The workshop, attended by aquatic animal health experts, national co-ordinators from 21 regional countries and representatives of concerned regional and international organizations and projects, identified a number of activities designed to support the development of national strategies and Asia-wide regional technical guidelines on aquatic animal quarantine and health certification for the responsible trans-boundary movement of live aquatic animals (FAO/NACA/OIE 1998). An important issue raised during the workshop was the need to ensure that aquatic animal disease control and preventative measures are relevant to rural farmers. This issue was considered of particular importance because the majority of Asian aquaculture production comes from small-scale farms and special attention may be required to developing strategies that meet their specific needs and circumstances. Information that emerged from data collected by the DFID-supported South East Asia Aquatic Animal Disease Control Project (SEAADCP) of the Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute (AAHRI) and NACA suggested a serious under-reporting of disease in this region and a consequent lack of prevention, diagnosis and intervention. Such a problem may be due to lack of awareness, monitoring, or capacity; however, it is an indicator that avoidable losses were occurring. The effects of this on small-scale rural aquaculture development and rural livelihoods are potentially more serious than on more intensive or "industrial systems", as development of aquatic animal health management systems has traditionally been "top down", with greater attention being paid to export commodities and development of national institutions. Preventative aquatic animal health management directed at the rural, small-scale, aquaculture appears to have been less of a priority in countries in the region, despite the fact that such an approach is likely to be cost effective, focused, and beneficial to those with least access to currently available aquatic animal health services. It also follows that incursions of disease and consequent low productivity in aquaculture systems arising from poor attention to primary health care in rural aquaculture management are likely to impact on investments in poverty alleviation programmes that involve aquaculture and enhanced fisheries. Given the importance of ensuring that disease control and prevention measures provide genuine assistance to small-scale aquafarmers, and recognising the particular difficulties in: (a) the current lack of good assessments of impacts of disease on small-scale farmers and poverty alleviation programmes through rural aquaculture; and (b) the likely special need for assistance programmes which specifically address the needs of small-scale farmers and "managers" of enhanced fisheries programmes, DFID, FAO and NACA, in cooperation with AAHRI/SEAADCP, proposed a scoping workshop to review information on socio-economic impacts, risks of disease incursions and health management strategies in small-scale aquaculture and enhanced fisheries programmes and to develop a regional strategy and a framework for better health management. This report gives the outcome from this workshop.

Aquaculture Development and Trends

Aquaculture provided 28.8 million tonnes or (24%) world fishery production (excluding aquatic plants) in 1997. Most aquaculture production (17 million tonnes) originated in fresh water. Of the remainder, 10.1 million tonnes were produced in marine environments and about 1.6 million tonnes in brackishwater environments. These figures are excluding the production of aquatic plants, which amounted to 7.2 million tonnes in 1997. Global production of aquaculture continues to be dominated by China, which in 1997 accounted for more than 67% of world output. The dominant global aquaculture activity in 1997 continued to be finfish production, accounting for about 52% of total aquaculture production by weight and 57% by value. As in previous years, freshwater finfish, in particular Chinese carp, accounted for the greatest share (42%) of total aquaculture production. Aquatic plants, 70% of which come from China, were valued at nearly US$5 billion and represented almost one-quarter of total production in 1997.

Aquaculture production is carried out predominantly in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). By 1997, 29.1 million tonnes, or around 81% of world total cultured finfish, shellfish and aquatic plant production originated in LIFDCs. The contribution of this group of countries to world production has increased sharply since 1990. At 14%, between 1990 and 1997 the average expansion rate of the aquaculture sector within LIFDCs was over three times that in non-LIFDCs, which recorded 4.2% overall. It is generally agreed that capture fisheries, both marine and fresh water, are declining, or at least not expanding rapidly enough to fulfill the protein needs of the rapidly increasing populations.

Sustainable Livelihoods and Aquatic Resources Management

The primary goal of many development agencies is now focused on elimination of poverty. In 1997 the British government published a white paper on International Development, with a commitment to working towards the elimination of abject poverty (UK Government 1997). The Department for International Development, Rural Livelihoods and Environment Division concluded that the sustainable livelihood approach has the potential to play an important part in the challenge of eliminating poverty. The approach aims to better address the priorities of poor people, both directly and at the policy level. It is essentially people-centered, supporting people to achieve their own livelihood goals, whilst aiming to ensure sustainability. A livelihood comprises the assets (natural, physical, human, financial and social capital), the activities, and the access to these (mediated by institutions and social relations) that together determine the living gained by an individual or household. Sustainable livelihoods are resilient to shocks and stresses, independent of external support (or dependent upon sustainable levels of support), maintain the long-term productivity of natural resources and do not undermine the livelihoods of others. Livelihood diversification is a key survival strategy of rural households in developing countries. The management of aquatic resources (including aquaculture) is often a component of poor peoples livelihoods, characterised as terrestrial farming systems, depending on access to resources and knowledge and the returns (economic and otherwise) from available opportunities. Rural small-scale aquaculture is the extensive or semi-intensive, low-cost farming of aquatic organisms by farming households or communities, using technology appropriate to their resource base (Edwards and Demaine 1997). Production can be for household consumption, though a proportion may also be sold to generate income. Aquaculture integrated with other agricultural activities can also improve the productivity of small and marginal farms or areas of land that cannot be used for traditional agricultural activities (Townsley 1998). The activity can be more flexible than livestock production, providing opportunities to prioritise household activities. Aquaculture can be an entry point for other development initiatives due to rapid results and high acceptance. Acceptability of aquaculture among rural households is particularly high in areas with poor access to capture fisheries resources.

Health Management in Small-scale Aquaculture

Disease is defined as any impairment of normal physiological function affecting all or part of an organism. Disease encompasses genetic, nutritional and environmental as well as infectious (bacterial, parasitic, viral, fungal) diseases. Although disease diagnosis and control programmes have generally tended to focus on more intensive aquaculture systems, it is known that small-scale low input aquaculture systems are also prone to disease, however, the scale of the problem and its cost to rural households has never been quantified. It should be said that the cost to more intensive systems of aquaculture has similarly not been quantified. One of the objectives of this workshop is to shed some light on the scale of the existing aquatic animal disease problems, indicating if they are a constraint to development or a threat to rural livelihoods. There is also the opportunity to identify methods for monitoring the health of these systems and to develop affordable interventions tailored for the needs of the poorer members of the rural aquaculture community.

The opportunity also exists to reverse the trend of top-down development in aquatic animal health management and to develop a holistic approach that will benefit small- scale producers and those that are most vulnerable. The workshop approach also emphasises "primary health care". Primary health care, whilst poorly defined in relation to aquaculture, is taken to mean integrated, accessible medicine that is delivered by generalists rather than specialists. It is primarily low technology, rather than high technology, and places greater emphasis on prevention, through management of factors in the environment that impact on health, or lack thereof, of the animal. It recognises the importance of the health of populations, i.e., of population medicine and is practised in the context of the community. It tends to be less costly than the speciality approach that is often practised at present. In human and veterinary medicine, primary health care is often delivered by non-physicians and non-veterinarians and provides an opportunity for continuity of observation. It opens possibilities for disease prevention and health promotion as well as early detection of disease. Primary health care is information intensive rather than technology intensive. Primary health care is taken to mean a health approach that integrates at the community level all the elements necessary to make an impact upon the health status of the population.



The workshop was held at the Sonargoan Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh from 27th -30th September 1999 with the following objectives:

1) To review current assessments of social and economic impacts of aquatic animal diseases, including the specific impacts of disease on rural livelihood programmes involving aquaculture and enhanced fisheries;
2) To review case studies on disease/health impacts and their management in rural aquaculture and enhanced fisheries programmes;
3) To assess current strategies for primary aquatic animal health care which target small-scale farmers, including case studies from particular countries;
4) To identify specific indicators to monitor impacts of aquatic animal diseases on poverty alleviation programmes involving aquaculture and enhanced fisheries;
5) To identify follow up actions needed to minimise risks associated with disease incursions in rural aquaculture; and
6) To prepare as appropriate a regional co-operative strategy for follow up that will provide an opportunity for international, regional and national agencies to contribute towards achieving a common goal, within their development and research programmes, targeted at poverty alleviation through aquaculture and enhanced fisheries.

Organisers, Sponsors and Agencies involved

The workshop was jointly organised and funded by DFID, FAO and NACA and hosted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock of the Government of Bangladesh. Further support was provided to a number of participants by DFID Research, British Council, International Development Research Centre Canada (IDRC), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Southeast Asia Aquatic Disease Control Project (SEAADCP) of the Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute (AAHRI).

A total of 48 aquatic animal health specialists and development professionals attended the workshop from nine countries in Asia and from the United Kingdom and Canada. The participants came from government and nongovernment agencies and from national, regional and international organisations. The list of participants is give as Annex I.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was held in the Sonargoan Ballroom, and the welcome address was given by Mr M.A. Matin, Director General of the Department of Fisheries of Bangladesh. The meeting was introduced by Mr Masudur Rahman, Director (Marine) Department of Fisheries. The FAO represented by Dr. K.G. Pillai, Dr Rohana Subasinghe (FAO Rome) and the Chairperson, Mr Ayub Quadri, addressed the meeting. Welcoming remarks were made by Mr Pedro Bueno on behalf of NACA and by Mr Tim Robertson on behalf of DFID. Chief Guest, Mr A S M Abdur Rob, the Honourable Minister of Fisheries and Livestock welcomed the participants and expressed his thanks to the organisers for a timely meeting that addressed the concerns of his government with regard to food security, employment generation and poverty alleviation. The Minister wished the meeting success and formally declared the meeting open.

The meeting then moved to the Titas Room of the Sonargaon Hotel for the technical sessions. Twenty-five papers (including reports of case studies and surveys), two review papers and two keynote papers were presented during the first two and a half days of the meeting, which broadly covered the following themes:

Session I: Introductory and Background Session

The session started with an inaugural address on aquaculture for poverty alleviation that introduced the concept of "rural livelihoods" and emphasised the importance of aquaculture in rural development. The presentation highlighted many of the issues, problems and challenges to be addressed and provided an important framework for discussions during the workshop. Subsequent speakers introduced the objectives and expected outputs of the workshop and lessons from the rural livestock sector which may be useful for consideration during formulating programmes on health management in small-scale aquaculture.

Session II: Aquatic Animal Diseases and Health Problems within the Context of Rural Aquaculture Development - Regional Reviews and National Case Studies

This session was opened by a review of social and economic impacts of diseases and health problems in some rural aquaculture systems, following which a number of case studies on various aspects of aquatic health management were presented. Cases covered included several studies of health problems and impacts in freshwater aquaculture systems in several countries; national overviews of the social and economic impacts of disease from Bangladesh, Lao PDR, China and India; and results from surveys of disease impact and awareness among farmers involved in freshwater pond aquaculture and Macrobrachium farming in Bangladesh.

The session continued with a review of the potential socio-economic and biological impacts of aquatic animal pathogens arising from hatchery-based enhancement of inland open-water systems and possibilities for their minimisation, followed by a case study on the social, economic and biodiversity impacts of EUS. There followed presentations on health issues in fish hatcheries and nurseries, the impacts of "red spot" disease on small-scale fish culture in Vietnam, three case studies on coastal shrimp systems and five case studies on health aspects of fish cage culture. The session closed with a paper on aquatic animal health management in Tam Giang Lagoon, Vietnam.

Session III: Methodological Issues and Intervention Strategies

This session looked into methodologies for assessing social and economic impacts of aquatic animal disease, and potential strategies for intervention. The session included a case-study on an aquatic animal health assessment and institutional analysis to support health management in small-scale aquaculture development in Southern Lao PDR, an overview of economic modelling of aquatic animal health problems and presentations on extension methodologies and a paper on strategies for making health management relevant to the context of rural aquaculture development based on lessons from the CARE LIFE project in Bangladesh.

Session IV: Working Group Discussions

Following the presentations, participants divided into three working groups to discuss the major issues raised during workshop presentations and discussions. The guidelines and Terms of Reference for the Working Groups are provided in Annex II. The reports of the findings of each of the Working Groups, which were presented and discussed in plenary during the final part of Workshop Session IV are given in Annexes III-V.

Closing Ceremony

Following the presentation and discussion on the conclusions and recommendations, the workshop was officially closed, with short speeches of thanks by D.K. Chowdhury, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Tim Robertson, Fisheries and Natural Resources Adviser, DFID Bangladesh, Rohana Subasinghe, FAO and Pedro Bueno, Coordinator's Representative, NACA.


Edwards, P., and H. Demaine. 1997. Rural aquaculture: overview and framework for country reviews. RAP Publication 1997/36. RAP, Bangkok, 61 p.

Townsley, P. 1998. Aquatic resources and sustainable rural livlihoods. In: D. Carney, (ed). Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. What Contribution Can We Make? Papers presented at the Department for International Development's Natural Resources Advisers' Conference, July 1998.

UK Government 1997. Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century (1997). Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for International Development. HMSO Publications Centre, PO Box 276, London SW8 5 DT.

Previous page Top of Page Next Page