Part I - Keynote Addresses

Aquaculture Development:
From Kyoto 1976 to Bangkok 2000
Keynote Address I

T.V.R. Pillay1

45/1 Palace Road, Bangalore, India

Pillay, T.V.R. 2001. Aquaculture development: from Kyoto 1976 to Bangkok 2000, Keynote Address I. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp.3-7. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.

ABSTRACT: During the intervening period of 24 years between the Kyoto Conference and the Bangkok Conference, aquaculture has gone through major changes in many areas, ranging from a small-scale homestead-level activity to large-scale commercial farming. Against the erstwhile perception of aquaculture as an insignificant subsistence activity, aquaculture production in some areas has, in fact, exceeded landings in capture fisheries. The Kyoto Conference adopted the Kyoto Declaration on Aquaculture that underlined the real potential for future development into a major industry. Its specific recommendations, addressed to those that were responsible for the development of the sector, covered the areas of increasing production and raising the profile of aquaculture in government development plans and private-sector investment priorities, investment and aid for aquaculture development, transfer of technologies and pilot projects, and coordination and integration of research. The Kyoto strategy was to infuse more science into traditional aquaculture practices, spread improved technologies and develop manpower through cooperation among developing countries. The strategy thus included the establishment of regional networks of aquaculture centres in developing regions to be subsequently converted into intergovernmental organizations. One of those networks was the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA).

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture, Kyoto Conference, Aquatic production, Development, Global trends, Regional trends, Asia




The two landmark events in the recent history of aquaculture are the holding of the FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture in Kyoto, Japan in 1976 and the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium in Bangkok, Thailand, in the year 2000. During the intervening period of 24 years, aquaculture has gone through major changes, ranging from small-scale homestead-level activities to large-scale commercial farming. Over-production has also occurred, leading to dumping in foreign markets and the imposition of tariff barriers. Against the erstwhile perception of aquaculture as an insignificant subsistence activity, aquaculture production has exceeded landings from capture fisheries in many areas. Both Conferences were designed to take stock of elements that are relevant to the future of the sector and to recommend action plans to be implemented by identified public-sector entities.

The first and only FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture was held, along with an international festival of educational and documentary films, in 1976 in Kyoto. Over 463 delegates nominated by member governments participated in the Conference. It brought together all interests directly concerned with aquaculture development: scientists, administrators, industrialists, financiers and representatives of academic and private institutions in member countries. The main documentation of the Conference, which was held in 12 consecutive sessions, consisted of 38 review papers and 82 experience papers, copies of which were made available to participants before each session to enable in-depth discussion in panel sessions. The distinguishing feature of this Conference was that there were no oral presentations by the authors. Instead, each session facilitated interaction between the audience and the selected panel members. Recommendations from these sessions, as far as possible, were directed to the agencies concerned for implementation. The accepted papers were published in a volume entitled Advances in Aquaculture (Pillay and Dill, 1979).

Regional workshops that preceded the Conference discussed plans for development of aquaculture in each of the member countries, and identified those that could be accomplished by national efforts and those that required regional cooperation to ensure speedy implementation with the available resources.


The regional workshop reports and subject matter reviews were intended to lead to vision statements and action plans to solve envisaged problems.

The Conference was convened at a time when many organizations had an interest only in capture fisheries, in the belief that only well- managed natural stocks can support fishery industries. Aquaculture production was perceived as an insignificant contributor to food security. It was believed that aquaculture would survive only as a small-scale industry, contributing to rural development in developing countries. Although the Conference was essentially focused on the potential of aquaculture in meeting the objectives of rural development, it was decided to adopt a general Declaration that underlined the real potential for future development into a major industry. This Declaration came to be known as the Kyoto Declaration on Aquaculture, to distinguish it from subsequent Kyoto declarations or protocols.

Kyoto Declaration on Aquaculture

Since the Declaration formed the basis of the Action Plan that followed, I may take the liberty of quoting in toto the Declaration that was adopted by the Conference (FAO, 1976). It declared:

  • That aquaculture has made encouraging progress in the past decade, producing significant quantities of food, income and employment; that realistic estimates place future yields of food at twice the present level in ten years, and five times the present level in thirty years, if adequate support is provided.
  • That aquaculture, imaginatively planned and intelligently applied, provides a means of revitalising rural life and supplying products of high nutritional value, and that aquaculture, in its various forms, can be practised in most countries, coastal and landlocked, developed and developing.
  • That aquaculture has a unique potential contribution to make to the enhancement and maintenance of wild aquatic stocks and thereby to the improvement of capture fisheries, both commercial and recreational.
  • That aquaculture forms an efficient means of recycling and upgrading low-grade food materials and waste products into high-grade protein-rich food




  • That aquaculture can, in many circumstances, be combined with agriculture and animal husbandry with mutual advantage, and contribute substantially to integrated rural development.
  • That aquaculture provides intellectual challenge to skilled professionals of many disciplines, and a rewarding activity for farmers and other workers at many levels of skill and education.
  • That aquaculture provides now, and will continue to provide, options for sound investment of money, materials, labour and skills.
  • That aquaculture merits the fullest possible support and attention by national authorities for integration into comprehensive renewable resource, energy, and land and water use policies and programmes, and for ensuring that the natural resources on which it is based are enhanced and not impaired.
  • That aquaculture could benefit greatly from support and assistance from international agencies, which should include the transfer of technology, actively planned and executed, with research carried out in centres representative of the various regions concerned.

Recommendations and their implementation

In furtherance of the policy implicit in the Declaration adopted by the Conference, the Conference made a number of specific recommendations to those who were responsible for the development of the sector.

Increasing production

Noting that there are a number of proven aquaculture systems that could be expected to expand production, governments were urged to give high priority to aquaculture development in national planning, and governments and the private sector were recommended to promote aquaculture-production projects to increase harvests to a minimum of five-fold over the next three decades.

Even though regular compilation of aquaculture statistics started in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) only in 1984, the Conference had taken a figure of 6.1

  million mt as the 1976 world production, based on the available information from government sources. In less than two decades, the recommended figure was exceeded. Production reached an impressive 27.2 million mt in 1995, and subsequently, over 36 million mt in 1998. Aquaculture thus became the main growth sector of the fishery industry, contributing nearly 30 percent of the world production from fisheries by 1998.

Investment and aid for aquaculture development

Recognising that over-capitalization and increased fishing effort are problems facing the fishing industry, many national governments, including those of major fishing nations, have accorded higher priority to aquaculture development, especially in order to reduce fishing pressure on exportable species. Inclusion of aquaculture in rural development has achieved considerable importance in aid projects. Strengthened extension services, organized independently, or as part of agriculture extension, have helped in promoting aquaculture in rural areas. National and regional centres have provided training of core personnel, such as extension workers, as also recommended by the Conference.

Till recently, before environmental issues gained prominence, private investments, as well as institutional financing from national development banks and donor agencies, gave considerable support to aquaculture projects. The statistics of external support, however, are very sketchy. In the six-years from 1988-1993, more than US$910 million is reported to have been committed in loans and grants for aquaculture from external sources. Thus the average annual input of aid is estimated to be about US$152 million during the same period. Investment in aquaculture from national sources is obviously much greater.

Transfer of technologies and pilot projects

Another recommendation emanating from the Kyoto Declaration relates to the expected expansion of aquaculture production through transfer of existing technologies, improvements of technologies and development of new technologies. Based on reviews of aquaculture world-wide, the Kyoto Conference noted that considerable basic information on new aquaculture species and farming systems was available, but a lack of pilot-scale model projects to test technical and economic viability hampered commercial applications.




Several pilot-scale and commercial projects had been carried out, however, on shrimp farming; cage farming of valuable fish species like salmon, trout, seabass and seabream; pond farming of turbot, strains of selected tilapia, and giant freshwater prawn; raft systems for growing oysters and mussels; scallop farming in lantern-type cages; and seaweed farming.

Coordination and integration of research

Recognising the relevance of systems-oriented multidisciplinary research, the Conference recommended that the diffused research efforts underway in many institutions could be made more productive through coordination and integration. In implementing the recom-mendation with regard to this, it was decided to combine research, practice-oriented training and information dissemination. FAO with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), attempted to establish regional networks of Lead Centres and National Centres to carry out applied research, training and information dissemination. The strategy was to provide external funding for initiating the network in each developing region, to be later converted into inter-governmental organizations. Long-term training was recognized by the national universities as equivalent to their master’s degree courses.

The first network established, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), was in the Asia-Pacific, with China, India, Thailand and the Philippines specialising in the areas of their major interests. NACA, as per the original provision, became an inter-governmental organization when the UNDP support ended. Networking in Africa and Latin America had started with the establishment of lead centres in the regions. The African lead centre was established in Nigeria and the Latin American lead centre in Brazil. Because of changed circumstances, efforts to expand and regionalize the two centres had to be suspended. The Freshwater Fish Farming Institute in Szarvas, Hungary, which received UNDP support for its expansion, agreed to function as an inter-regional centre for long-term fundamental research.


Bangkok Conference

In a number of regional meetings, including those of the Governing Council of NACA, it was recognized that it was time to hold a conference similar to the FAO Technical Conference, in order to take stock of the changed scenario of aquaculture in the last few decades and identify future opportunities and challenges that it may have to face to achieve its optimum potentials. Since FAO did not have such a conference in its agenda, the Governing Council of NACA asked its secretariat to take the initiative in this regard as part of its five-year program of work, if possible with FAO cooperation. FAO Fishery Department proposed that this Conference be made a world conference and agreed to cooperate in its organization.

A preparatory regional workshop was held for the formulation and discussion of national development plans for the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region. FAO agreed to arrange for the preparation of review papers on the state of, and trends in, aquaculture development in other regions in order to achieve a global coverage. These plans and reviews are meant to delineate the global opportunities and constraints that have bearing on the development of the aquaculture sector.

This Conference is being organized together with the Aquaculture and Sea Food Fair, to focus on the participation of the private sector in the development of aquaculture and allied industries. It is conceived as a futuristic exercise to envision the state of aquaculture in the next millennium and to formulate strategies for national, regional and inter-regional actions. The Kyoto Conference concentrated, though not exclusively, on aquaculture as a small-scale enterprise integrated with rural development.

Even though aquaculture the world over is still a small-scale enterprise, the compulsions of ensuring food security for the increasing world population and the need to utilize the opportunity for international trade and investment will likely make large commercial farms become more common, which may involve greater use of intensive farming methods to increase production and profitability. Consequently, environmental concern and sustainability problems can be expected to intensify in this new millennium. The growth of environmental-activist groups and public-interest litigation may retard progress, unless the concerned institutions and agencies give high priority to the development of appropriate and tested technologies.




The correct information has to be made accessible to aquaculture practitioners and the general public. The revolutionary development of information technology expected in this new millennium can facilitate dissemination of such authentic information. This is important, because much of the present-day opposition to development is caused by lack of correct information, or by misinformation.

Technological progress in the next millennium has to go hand-in-hand with the social and ethical acceptability of development measures. Research and assessment policies have to be evolved to suit different socio-economic conditions.

The reference to overall economic climate and its impact on the aquaculture sector would become evident if investment requirements and opportunities are adequately dealt with by the Conference. Adoption of intensive farming methods may lead to greater disease outbreaks. Crop insurance procedures, regular farm inspections and maintenance of disease diagnosis centres will all become imperative. Though still a small-scale enterprise, aquaculture has emerged as the major growth sector in the fishery industries. Since one cannot see much scope for the expansion of capture fisheries to meet market requirements, there is an inevitable need to develop sustainable systems of aquaculture production. It is essential to maintain and, if possible, increase the rate of growth of aquaculture to ensure food security, as well as meet the demand for farm-fresh products by the affluent sections of society. Large commercial firms using intensive farming methods would lead to environmental concerns and sustainability problems.

  This applies not only to the environmental sustainability of development, but also to the use of genetic modification in farming. Though the maintenance of biological diversity in ecological management of aquatic farming is of special importance, aquaculture and resource enhancement often require the transplantation of non-indigenous species or strains, and this is likely to increase in the future as efforts intensify to rebuild diminishing stocks of commercially important species.

I do not wish to forestall the discussion at this Conference and the agenda of action plans that may be adopted. I have tried to pinpoint some of the challenges of the next millennium that I consider to be of relevance to this Conference. I am sure the speakers that follow will deal with these in greater detail. I have attempted to underline the major considerations needed to arrive at an adequate vision of the aquaculture sector in this new millennium, so that appropriate action plans can be identified and implemented.


Pillay & Dill. 1979. Advances in Aquaculture. Papers presented at the FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture, Kyoto, Japan, May 26 –June 02 1976. Fishing News Books Ltd., England. 653pp.

FAO. 1976. Report of the FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture. Kyoto, Japan, 26 May - 2 June 1976. FAO, Rome. 93pp.


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