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Aquaculture Economics in Asia and the Pacific

A Regional Assessment

Renato F. Agbayani, Evelyn T. Belleza and Emelita C. Agbayani


Three billion people, or 70% of the world’s population, live in Asia and the Pacific. Although every year three to four Asians are placed on Fortune’s list of the 20 richest people in the world, the majority of Asians live below the official poverty line.

Producing food, generating employment and providing basic social services for the burgeoning population, and earning foreign exchange to fuel economic development, are among the top priorities of Asia-Pacific countries.

The region’s vast and rich coastal and inland waters have been a major source of adequate and cheap protein food and livelihood for the people. In the past, the seas teemed with exportable species of fish. But over the years, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and industrial and human wastes have gradually depleted the rich aquatic resources. People turned to aquaculture for food, livelihood and export.

Aquaculture in Asia dates back many centuries in China. As the Chinese dispersed to other Asian countries, they brought with them the practices and the fish that were adaptable to their new environment. The culture methods were low-cost and extensive; the produce was consumed mainly by the farmers’ households and nearby communities. Indonesia and India are also pioneers in fish culture who have had great influence on the practices and direction of aquaculture in Asia.

Although aquaculture has been practised in Asia for centuries, it was only during the past two decades, when great advances were made in culture techniques, feed development and chemical treatments, that it has contributed significantly to the economies of developing Asian countries. During this decade, however, many Asian countries are suffering the adverse effects of indiscriminate application of technological advancements.

This regional assessment provides a broad overview of research and information on aquaculture economics in Asia and the Pacific. Section 2 describes the general state of aquaculture in the region. This is followed, in Section 3, by examinations of the available research and information on the various aquaculture systems: inland/freshwater aquaculture; brackishwater/coastal aquaculture; and marine aquaculture/seafarming. The assessment then discusses, in sections 4 and 5, studies on post-harvest handling, processing, transportation and marketing, and on market analysis and development. A set of analyses in sections 6-10 dealing with: environmental issues and concerns; social equity and women’s issues; community-based coastal resources management; technology transfer; and macro-economic policies and institutional structures. The assessment concludes in section 11 with a discussion of aquaculture economics research - thrusts, priorities, constraints and needs.


Aquaculture thrives in Asia and the Pacific region, because many of the countries are archipelagic and they have numerous and rich inland water bodies, a tropical climate, abundant rainfall and dense mangrove forests. Tidal flow along its coastline - 163 609 km, which is 28% of the world’s aggregate coastline (World Resources, l990-1991) - brings fish and nutrients from the sea into nearby ponds and fields. Abundant rainfall makes rivers and lakes overflow into paddies and leaves behind fish, shrimp and other edible aquatic animals. The tropical sun nurtures the aquatic plants on which the fishes feed, and the mangroves provide rich habitat for the fry and fingerlings that the fish farmers catch and culture in their ponds.

Aquaculture has become the fastest growing food activity in the world, according to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAO, 1996). In Asia, aquaculture has expanded sevenfold during the past eleven years and has contributed substantially to the region’s food security, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings.

On the island states of the Pacific, however, aquaculture has not rapidly expanded in the manner it did in Asian countries. There has been no pressure to greatly expand aquaculture because the Pacific coastal waters still abound with fish. In addition, the island states do not have adequate land spaces that are ideal for aquaculture. However, in anticipation of population growth and economic development in the 21st century, the island states have formed the Pacific Aquaculture Association (PAA) to promote appropriate aquaculture development on Guam and in the Republic of Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and American Samoa.

Asia dominates global aquaculture production. In 1995, Asia’s production leaped by 15% - from 15.9 million mt in 1994 to 18.27 million mt, which is 87% of the total world production of 21 million mt (Fish Farming International, June 1997). In comparison, aquaculture production in the rest of the world in 1995 was: Europe, 1.41 million mt (6.2%); North America, 600 000 mt (2.86%); South America,

329 000 mt (1.56%); Oceania, 94 700 mt (0.45%); and Africa, 82 000 mt (0.39%). (These figures do not include seaweed production which is estimated at 6 million t worldwide.)

China led all countries with 12.79 million mt production. Nine other Asian countries are among the top 14 producers in the world (Table 1). However, not all Asian countries in the list have increased their production. Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan (P.C.) experienced slumps in production in 1995, primarily due to decreases in shrimp (P. monodon) production caused by diseases.

Generally, the increase in production was across all species. Carp, barbel and other cyprinids dominated the species group with a production of 10.34 million mt, up from 9.04 mt in 1994. Production of tilapia and other cichlids also increased from 619 000 mt in 1994 to 659 000 mt in 1995. Production of other freshwater species increased, too, from 1.55 million to 1.68 million mt. Shrimp production went up from 885 288 to 931 788 mt.

The phenomenal growth of aquaculture in the Asia and Pacific region during the last two decades was market-driven. Appropriate technologies were developed and adopted. Governments in the region developed with policies supportive of the industry, such as tax incentives, infrastructure development, and exemption of fish farms from land reform programmes. The production and export of high-value species have been in high gear since the 1980s; however, problems related to environmental degradation, particularly water pollution, the high cost of imported feeds, and the destruction of mangroves decelerated production and drastically eroded profits. Social problems erupted. Small-scale fishers dependent on coastal resources have been adversely affected by the conversion of mangroves to ponds and by the destruction of coral reefs due to siltation and destructive fishing practices.

Table 1. World aquaculture production of top 14 countries

Production (million mt)

  1994 1995 % Increase
1. China 8.80 (1993) 12.79 22.67
2. India 1.53 1.61 5.22
3. Japan .781 .82 4.99
4. Indonesia .598 .611 2.17
5. Thailand .514 .464 (9.73)
6. USA .391 .413 5.63
7. South Korea .343 .368 7.29
8. Philippines .380 .346 (8.95)
9. Bangladesh .270 .322 19.26
10. Norway .218 .282 29.36
11. France .281 .281 0
12. Taiwan (P.C.) .282 .278 (1.42)
13. Italy .180 .220 22.22
14. Viet Nam .198 .211 6.56

The crests and ebbs of the aquaculture wave in Asia and the Pacific are chronicled by the more than 700 publications included in the annotated bibliography, and certainly by hundreds more that the writers were unable to locate. It must be noted that the review here is confined to literature from the mid-1970s to 1997 - the period when aquaculture had its milestone leaps and setbacks. Furthermore, most of the literature is on Asia; as previously mentioned there are limited aquaculture activities in the Pacific.

Research mirrors government priorities. The population explosion and frenzied race to economic development of the 1960s-80s had governments looking for expeditious methods of food production, employment generation and capital sourcing. The issues of environmental degradation and the resource use conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s had governments reviewing their policies and taking steps to address such issues. All these concerns are reflected in the region’s literature. Thus, it will be noted that most of the 1970s-80s literature is on production economics - searching for the most efficient techniques to culture fish. Likewise, much of the late 1980s and early 1990s literature is on environmental impact assessments, developing culture techniques that are environment-friendly, and evolving approaches to coastal resources management that protect and conserve the resources as well as ensuring equitable sharing of resource benefits by all stakeholders. However, there are countries that are still more preoccupied with increasing production and have not paid much attention to environmental and social issues. Hence, the noticeable dearth of literature in environmental protection and resource management in some countries.

India has the largest number of publications, followed by the Philippines and Indonesia. Literature from China, the aquaculture pioneer and top producer, is limited; it is surmised that most scientific papers are written in Chinese and published in China, and are not submitted for publication in internationally-circulated journals.

Most papers were written by those indigenous to the Asia and Pacific region but there are still some papers that bear the names of expatriate experts. This supports the statement of Montalvo and Pomeroy (1993) that research is being conducted by experts from developed countries, even as Asians who were sent to universities in the West for advanced studies have returned and are now actively involved in the region’s research and development (R&D).

Post-harvest handling and processing, marketing, market analysis and development, coastal resource management, technology transfer and government policy support and reforms are all important parts of aquaculture development. Literature in these areas, however, is scant when compared to the volume of publications in production economics.

There are some papers that provide overviews of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific. Among these are: Csavas (1995) on development trends and issues; Montalvo and Pomeroy (1993) on social science research in fisheries and aquaculture; and Brewer and Corbin (1984) on the commonalities of Pacific island states that can provide a broad framework for aquaculture development.


The majority of the more than 700 publications in the bibliography are on aquaculture systems and production or farm-level economics. All sorts of culture techniques have been tried, developed, innovated, and verified in paddies, fresh and brackishwater water ponds, reservoirs, irrigation canals, tanks (concrete, canvas, and polyethylene), sewage tanks, and nets and pens in freshwater and marine water bodies. Various species combinations and agri-aquaculture integration have been tried out. The most economically efficient methods under different culture scenarios have been determined. What needs to be studied are production systems that are not only technologically and economically viable but also, and most importantly, people- and environment-friendly. (Annex 1 provides an index of entries in the Asia and the Pacific Bibliography categorized by production scale and production method.)

Shrimp is the most studied species because of its export value. Tilapia is next because of its adaptability to most culture environments, simple technology, low production cost and, lately, advances in genetic development.

Integrated fish culture is the most studied production system because it not only provides fish and other food products and generates employment for the rural population, but also solves agricultural waste disposal problems.

Freshwater bodies are the most studied fish culture environment because integrated fish culture normally takes place in an inland setting.

The grow-out phase of aquaculture commands the most attention in all species, followed by hatchery and nursery phases.

Traditionally, aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific region is classified according to resource base, namely: inland or freshwater aquaculture, brackishwater aquaculture, and marine water aquaculture.

3.1 Inland/freshwater aquaculture

Inland or freshwater aquaculture is the major source of finfishes for local consumption. It is characterized by low-input culture techniques and extensive or semi-intensive stocking. Inland fishponds are operated mostly by small farmers as an integral part of their simple farming systems. Freshwater cage or pen culture seldom reaches commercial scale. For shrimp culture, alternating periods of over- and under-supply will be experienced over the coming years in view of production difficulties caused primarily by diseases.

China is the world leader in freshwater aquaculture. Freshwater aquaculture products account for 36% of China’s total fisheries production. According to Li and Mathias (1994), the rapid growth of freshwater aquaculture can be attributed to "scientific advances, adoption of new technologies, and expanded use of existing bodies of water and aquatic resources, all set in the context of economic reform and open-door foreign policy". The fastest-growing component of China’s freshwater aquaculture is pond fish culture (Leung et al., 1993).

The three most popular culture systems practised in freshwater aquaculture are: (i) integrated farming of finfishes, livestock, rice, vegetables and fruit trees; (ii) monoculture or polyculture of tilapia; and, (iii) monoculture or polyculture of freshwater shrimp.

3.1.1 Integrated fish farming

Inland aquaculture is dominated by integrated farming of finfish, livestock, rice, fruit trees and vegetables. Tilapia and carp are the most popular fishes produced in integrated farming.

Studies in different countries have shown the great importance of integrated fish culture in augmenting farm production, optimizing utilization of farm resources, generating employment, disposing of agricultural waste, producing adequate food for the population, and in generally improving the economy of the rural areas. (Annex I includes a list of entries in the Asia and the Pacific Bibliography on this topic.)

China. Chen and Charles (1995) provide an overview of integrated fishfarming systems in China through a survey of 1 013 ponds in 101 farms in eight provinces. An examination of the gross and net fish yields of each province supports the traditional Chinese classification of provinces into high, medium and low productivity classes. The average net fish yields for each category are 7 958, 4 981 and 3 321 kg/ha/yr, respectively. The paper includes summaries and analyses of data on fish stocking and harvesting, the use of feeds and fertilizers, fish-animal integration, capital inputs, and the overall cost and revenue structure in each productivity class.

Minh (1988) presents an economic analysis of the integration of bamboo plots in fishfarms in the Pearl River Delta in China. The economic returns of this low-input practice are high. The bamboo shoots are sold as food while the by-products from the processing of bamboo shoots are used as food or pond manure. Land use is optimized by planting cabbage in spaces between rows of bamboo shoots.

The study of Yuan et al. (1993) shows that a semi-intensive crop-hog-fish integrated agrosystem is more profitable than extensive or intensive systems. The output value is 257 times the production cost.

Hu and Yang (1984) compare the economic efficiencies and revenues of different types of fish-cum-duck farming.

Ruddle (1986) discusses how integrated fishfarming has helped solve the problem of excess labour in the densely-populated Pearl River Delta in South China. An old dike-pond system integrating the production of Chinese carp, sugar cane, mulberry leaf silkworms and several minor commodities absorbs about 75% of available labour in the 20-29 year old age group.

Zhong (1988) shows how farmlands are enhanced by the interaction of artificial ecosystems of land and water.

Due the importance of integrated fish farming in China, Yang (1989) stresses the necessity of planning management in order to ensure economic efficiency.

Laos. Landlocked Laos gets its fish supply from integrated fish farms. The Laotian Government, through an aggressive fish-culture extension programme, promotes polyculture, integrated farming systems and seed culture systems (Singh, 1994).

India. The availability of 2.3 million ha of deepwater rice plots in India has enabled farmers to adopt rice-fish culture (Ghosh, 1992). Studies in India show the economic viability of paddy-cum-fish culture even in saline coastal soils (Ghosh and Chattopadhyay, 1986; Ghosh et al., 1985; Ghosh and Pathak, 1988; Subramanian, 1988; Mukopadhyay and Datta, 1986; Sinha, 1986; Paul, 1986). Studies on the production economics of pig-fish and duck-fish farming (Jhingran and Sharma, 1986) and on duck-fish farming (Varma, 1995; Navaneethakrishnan and Venkataramani, 1993) show that production cost decreases when feed and fertilizers are replaced with manure of ducks and pigs. Integrated fish-livestock-crop farming also proves to be an efficient way of producing most of the food requirements of farm families, increasing their incomes and making use of livestock waste (Sharma and Das, 1988). The farmers have also explored the viability of culturing fish in vegetable farms (De, 1991). Sarkar (1993) uses participatory methods in his research on integrated fish-rice farming in West Bengal.

Viet Nam. In the Mekong Delta region of southern Viet Nam, farmers widely practise integrated farming of fish, rice, vegetables, fruit trees and livestock. They culture fish not only in the Mekong River but also in every available water body, such as irrigation canals and water impounding ponds. A recent socio-economic survey of Cantho University’s WES Programme (1997) shows that four farming systems are practised in the region: (i) aquaculture in pond and garden canals; (ii) aquaculture integrated with animals and/or trees and other non-rice crops; (iii) aquaculture with rice; and (iv) rice-farming alone. The survey also shows that decisions to go into integrated aquaculture are influenced by the farmers’ experience in aquaculture, the source of information on aquaculture, and the availability of water bodies. The survey also shows that farmers with integrated farms have a higher educational attainment and, generally, are economically better-off than farmers who do not practise integrated farming.

Philippines. Studies on the production economics of rice-fish culture (Bimbao et al., 1990; Bimbao and Smith, 1988; de la Cruz, 1988; Tagarino, 1985), pig-fish farming (Sevilleja, 1982; Hopkins and Cruz, 1982), livestock-fowl-fish farming (Delmendo, 1980) and fowl-fish farming (Hopkins and Cruz, 1982) reveal that integrated farming can significantly improve rural income and nutrition. Economic analysis shows that livestock-fish is the more profitable combination. A study by Israel et al. (1995) using target MOTAD shows that rice-fish culture is profitable, but risky, during the wet season.

The Philippine Government encourages rural folk to adopt integrated backyard fishponds in lowland areas. In the province of Cavite, a People’s School System was established to train ‘barangay (village) scholars’ on backyard fishpond technology (Fermin, 1985). Although inadequate water and manure supply hampers operation, the prospects are still bright. The project’s immediate benefit is improvement of the participant households’ nutrition.

Indonesia. Djajadiredja et al. (1980) report that farmers with small landholdings in Indonesia culture fish with rice, vegetables, chicken, duck, sheep, and cattle. Rice-fish farming, found in almost all provinces, is the preferred combination, followed by cattle-fish.

Cruz and de la Cruz (1991) compare the economic yields of different stocking densities of common carp in rice fields by nine farmers. The rate of return on operating capital is highest at a stocking density of 1 500 fish/ha, compared to stocking densities of 3 000 and 4 500 fish/ha. In southern Java, a study by Kusumawardhani et al. (1994) using linear programming proves that fish-chicken culture increases the fish farmers’ income.

Malaysia. Clonts et al. (1989) describe the role of integrated aquaculture farming in augmenting the income of the rural poor. Using mixed integer linear programming, Clonts et al. determine the optimum combination of species within the context of food niches. The food niche concept permits flexibility in stocking rates; the farmers can stock at the exact rates for optimal profit rather than the fixed stocking rates.

In order to improve rice-fish production, Ali (1990) recommends the following strategies: building higher dikes to prevent fish from escaping; digging perimeter trenches to serve as refuge for fish and to allow sufficient space and zooplankton production; clearing of aquatic weeds in the early stages of fish culture; judicious and prudent use of herbicides and the planting of fruit trees on dikes; and the undertaking of benefit/cost studies on the different integrated culture systems to guide farmers.

Bangladesh. Dewan (1992) reports that 0.2 million t of wild fish are caught annually in Bangladesh from the country’s 2.83 million ha of rice fields. The author states that capture and rice-fish culture systems are practised on a very limited scale. Production can be increased significantly with fish culture; however, there has been very limited research done on rice-fish farming in Bangladesh. On-station and on-farm experiments have focused on evaluating stocking densities and species-combinations of carp (Indian, Chinese and common varieties), silver barb and tilapia. Dewan sees the potential offered by integrated rice-fish farming in increasing household incomes and reducing unemployment. He urges the Government to resolve social issues on land ownership and water-use rights, and to extend technical aid, production inputs and credit support to farmers.

Hoque (1995) says that the majority of the population in Bangladesh are protein-deficient in spite of the fact that inland water bodies comprise 12% of the country’s total geographical area. More than 70% of the farmers are poor and cannot afford the high-input cost of semi-intensive and intensive fish culture systems.

Thailand. In central Thailand, the commodity mix of integrated farming systems are tilapia-chicken, tilapia-catfish-chicken, tilapia-catfish-carp-chicken and tilapia-catfish-pig. A study conducted in 1985 by Pinnoi (undated) on the four types of integrated farming shows that the tilapia-catfish-chicken system yields the highest profit. His regression analysis shows that stocking density and area are important independent variables in the fish production models. Wages and feed are not considered important.

A study by Dey et al. (1997) confirms the popularity of the polyculture of tilapia, carp and other freshwater species in Thailand. Manure of chickens and ducks that are raised in the farms are used as fertilizer. In terms of output, fish production of farmers raising solely fish is 6 290 kg/ha, which is much higher than the 3 756 kg/ha produced by those engaged in integrated farming with chicken, 5 297 kg/ha with duck, and 2 813 kg/ha with pig. Gross revenue from the total farm output (fish and other farm products) is highest among fish-duck growers. Gross and net returns from fish production alone, however, is highest among the non-integrated fish farmers.

A study by Middendorp (1987) shows that the culture of tilapia in small-scale hapa nets (8 m3) in village ponds can increase the farmers’ income by 20%.

Sollows and Tongpan (1986) present a comparative economic analysis of rice-fish culture and rice monoculture in northeast Thailand. Carp, tilapia and catfish are stocked at 2 500-5 000/ha. Their study contains the following observations: rice-fish production is better during the dry season; fish culture enhances rice production, especially when fish are stocked at high densities; and, after one year, the value of rice-fish culture production exceeds the original investment cost, but the year-end profit is still less than the one-year profit from rice monoculture because of the high cost of seed fish.

Hong Kong (China). Integrated farming is imperative in Hong Kong (China) due to limited land and water resources. The study by Wai-ching (1980) of the various combinations of pig, duck, goose, pigeon and fish shows that Hong Kong farms produce much higher than those of other countries. Fish production ranges from 1.5 t/ha/yr to 4.7 t/ha/yr, while those of other countries are less than a ton/ha/yr. Expansion of integrated farms, however, is hampered by the smallness of Hong Kong’s land area, whose value is always on the rise due to competition for commercial, industrial, housing and recreational uses. Estimated returns on capital investment are 15-19% for duck and goose farming, and 43-59% for the fish culture component.

3.1.2 Tilapia culture

In Asia, the most popularly-farmed tilapia species is Oreochromis niloticus. Recent research and development efforts on tilapia culture have focused on genetic improvements. ICLARM scored a breakthrough in tilapia genetic research with a strain named Genetically-Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) (Dey and Eknath, 1996).

In February 1997, ICLARM held a workshop attended by representatives of countries that have farmed GIFT. According to the participants, GIFT is superior to other existing strains being cultured in Asia and has a higher yield potential (Dey, 1997). GIFT is more efficient in feed and fertilizer utilization, compared to existing strains in Bangladesh and the Philippines. It is economical to increase feed and fertilizer to increase yield. There is, however, a need to formulate cost-effective feed in order to raise the economically optimal level of input use and thereby increase the overall yield. The wide gap between fish supply and demand - brought about by dwindling catches from the sea and a burgeoning population - can be narrowed by culturing genetically-improved tilapia.

Socio-economic studies on the culture of GIFT tilapia and other strains have been undertaken as described below.

Philippines. Bimbao et al. (1994; 1996), Bimbao and Dey (1997) and Regaspi et al. (1997) analyze the macro- and micro-level issues of tilapia hatchery and grow-out operations, as well as marketing and consumption patterns.

Tilapia hatcheries are concentrated in the southern Tagalog region where the biggest lakes (Laguna and Taal) are found. The total tilapia fry and fingerling production of 387 hatcheries is estimated at 29.6 million. There are some 15 022 grow-out farmers, 73% of whom are on the main island of Luzon and the rest who are in Mindanao and the Visayas. The existence of developed irrigation facilities in Central Luzon contributes to the widespread culture of tilapia.

Before the GIFT breakthrough, there were early studies on the socio-economics of tilapia cage culture in Laguna province by Aragon et al. (1985) and Gonzales (1984), and in Mindanao by Oliva (1985). These studies prove that tilapia cage farming is profitable. In Laguna, there are significant differences in the mean labour use, production, total cost, gross returns and net farm incomes of the farmers. The differences are due to farm size, the integration of operation (others have their own hatcheries), and the use of non-cash labour. Poaching has also been observed in some of the farm areas in the province. In Mindanao, there are problems of overcrowding, lack of capital, poaching and lack of technical know-how. Lazaga and Roa (1985) survey the tilapia cage culture in Laguna de Bay and find low financial performance and poor economic viability during the 1980-82 seasons, due to overcrowding of cages in limited areas, poaching and typhoon damage. Guerrero (undated) describes the cage culture of tilapia, including the species cultured, the design and construction of floating cages, the management and production of cages, the economic analysis of the cage culture system, and the prospects and problems. Guerrero (1995) also evaluates home-made feeds used for commercial tilapia production.

The introduction of O. niloticus in the Philippines resulted in the proliferation of hatcheries along the lakes of the Laguna and Rizal provinces. Yater and Smith (1985) analyze the economics of these hatcheries, while Escover (1987) discusses the phenomenon’s impact on rural households, its labour utilization, seasonal variation and costs-and-returns. An industry-wide study on tilapia by Bimbao and Smith (1988) confirms Escover’s finding that the introduction of O. niloticus resulted in the rapid development of the tilapia industry and in the consequent decline of tilapia prices by 20%.

In central Luzon, a study by Sevilleja (1985) shows that the polyculture of tilapia with other freshwater species gives a slightly higher profit than the monoculture system.

Tilapia production in 1995 was 81 182 t, posting an annual growth rate of 9% since 1983. Production from freshwater ponds is 42%, the rest in brackishwater. Prices increased at 1.44% annually during the period 1983-1995. With higher production of improved breeds or strains, market prices are expected to stabilize.

Viet Nam. A socio-economic assessment of tilapia culture by Chung (1997) shows that improved strains such as GIFT, Thai and Egyptian, have better performance in terms of growth and productivity. Some 78% of Vietnamese farmers engage in polyculture of tilapia with different species of carps, catfishes, and barbs in small-scale ponds. Compared to non-tilapia growers, tilapia farmers obtain higher pond productivity and gross margins. In view of the socio-economic benefits to small farmers, the study urges the Government to develop policies that will address issues and problems such as ineffective extension programmes and inadequate credit facilities. It also stresses the need for technological and research support in containing fish diseases, improving seed quality, formulating cost-effective feeds, enhancing sex reversal techniques and genetics research, and improving overall management. The Vietnamese Government, through the Ministry of Fisheries and its attached agencies (research institutes in aquaculture/RIAs), launched a national breeding programme for tilapia (Thien et al., 1997). The RIAs will supply the different experimental research stations with breeders which, in turn, will supply hatcheries in various regions, mostly in the Mekong River Delta.

Hao et al. (1997) report that a two-year experiment on the dissemination and evaluation of GIFT confirm its superiority over other strains in terms of growth rate, feed consumption ratio, survival rate, and yield.

The impacts of the technical improvement in tilapia farming on production and consumption in Viet Nam were studied by Chung (1997). The author observes that the technological advances in tilapia culture have increased pond productivity, lowered unit cost and lessened dependence on purchased inputs. GIFT is preferred by the majority of consumers because of its light colour, large size and relatively lower price.

Bangladesh. Trial cultures of GIFT in Bangladesh show that its yield is significantly higher than those of red tilapia and other existing strains (Hussain and Mazid, 1997). As part of the drive to propagate the culture of GIFT, Dey et al. (1997) conducted a survey of the socio-economic status of small-scale farmers, marketing systems and consumption patterns. The survey shows that actual and potential fishfarmers are generally small-scale operators. Operators with farms of less than 0.4 ha have lower productivity and profitability than those with larger farms. Nevertheless, all farmers make a profit regardless of farm size. Dey et al. (1997) also analyze the demand for fish in Bangladesh using econometric estimation procedure. The estimates for fish demand are essential in assessing the impact of technology advancement, such as genetic improvements. They conclude that demand for fish is both price- and income-elastic. Total expenditure elasticity decreases as income level increases; price elasticities increase as average income increases though variations are not large. Technological breakthrough in small-scale fish culture is expected to increase the welfare of poor consumers at a higher rate compared to the rest of the population.

Prior to the introduction of GIFT in Bangladesh, Gupta et al. (1992) undertook a survey on the socio-economic impact and farmers’ assessment of Nile tilapia culture. The study reveals that 70% of fish produced is consumed on-farm, thus improving the nutrition of farming families. The average return on investment (ROI) is 343%.

India. Mitra et al. (1989) trace the social acceptance and analyze the economic returns of tilapia culture in West Bengal. Formerly shunned, tilapia has eventually gained acceptance due to its low price and good taste. The culture process of tilapia is adaptable in sewage-fed bheries, low-saline ponds and paddies.

In another study in India, Nitithamyong et al. (1991) compared different culture systems of tilapia (monoculture, polyculture with snakehead, and integrated with pig and snakehead) in terms of growth, production and returns. Production in the integrated system using multiple harvesting techniques has the highest output (100 kg/unit), compared to the 53 kg/unit of monoculture. In economic terms, however, integrated systems have lower returns than the monoculture of tilapia.

New Caledonia. Redding (1989) traces the development of tilapia (O. mossambica) culture in the Sepik River in the late 1970s. He discusses the reasons for the success of tilapia culture, examines niche exploitation, reproductive strategies, breeding seasons, mortality and the competition for food and space.

Sri Lanka. Galapitage (1982) studies tilapia cage culture in Sri Lanka and recommends the adoption of efficient culture techniques to improve profitability.

3.1.3 Freshwater shrimp culture

Freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is also popularly cultured in Asia. Socio-economic studies on freshwater prawn culture are however very limited.

Thailand. New et al. (1980) report that the 1979 production of M. rosenbergii, valued at $US 3 million, is greater than the production of any other country. Still, demand exceeds supply and there is still a need to import freshwater prawn.

In analyzing the culture process of M. rosenbergii in Thailand, Wetchagarun and Uraironk (1980) find that pond culture is the most popular and that big farms are more profitable than small farms.

Malaysia. Ang (1990) reports on the results of two experiments on the monoculture of M. rosenbergii in earthen ponds in Malaysia. Stocking density, feeds and feeding regimen, and water quality are the parameters monitored to determine their impact on survival, growth and weight. Production economic figures, however, are not available.

Taiwan (P.C.). Liao and Lu (1995) analyze the production costs and returns of 100 farms of freshwater shrimp (M. Rosenbergii) in India. The study shows that large farms are more profitable than small farms and that higher productivity can be achieved by the adjustment of various resources and by the adoption of improved management practices.

India. Ahemad and Naushin (1990) discuss the economic importance of the capture and culture of Macrobrachium malcolmsonii, the only large variety of freshwater prawn in upland and inland areas of India. They recommend conservation and propagation of the prawn in order to bolster the rural economy.

The experiments of Durairaj and Umamaheswari (1991) in Madras and Chingleput show that the polyculture of M. malcolmsonii and carp is both technically and economically viable. A study by Prakash et al. (1990) also proves the economic efficiency of polyculturing freshwater prawn and carp in municipal sewage tanks. Savings are realized by the replacement of supplementary feed with sewage. This polyculture system also reduces hydrospheric pollution of the aquatic ecosystem.

3.1.4 Carp, catfish and other freshwater fish culture

Carp, catfish, eel, snakehead and other freshwater finfish are widely cultured in paddies, ponds, reservoirs, cages, irrigation canals and pens. They are either monocultured or polycultured with other species, or integrated with rice and livestock. This section will discuss the economics of different culture systems for these species in ponds, reservoirs, cages, irrigation canals and pens.

Indonesia. Rusydi and Lampe (1990) present the results of their survey and economic analysis of the operation of 350 farms culturing common carp in floating net cages in the Saguling Reservoir, Indonesia. The authors find that the average ownership is three cages and investment per cage is

Rp 300 000. Cage culture of common carp is profitable; an average-sized three-cage farm can support an Indonesian family of five well above the national poverty level.

Viveen et al. (1990) describe the techniques practised in the research facility of the Universitas Brawijaya for the artificial reproduction of the Asian catfish Clarias batrachus. The authors also discuss the economics of the rearing of fry and fingerling in ponds and flow-through tanks, using semi-intensive and super-intensive stocking densities. The estimated production cost of catfish fingerling is $US 0.10 or 10% of the market price of $US 1.00. The intensive culture system is beset with problems arising from the high cost of commercial pellet, erratic feed management and diseases.

Suprayitno (1986) describes the recently-developed system of intensive fish culture called ‘running-water fish culture’. The system uses oval-shaped ponds and polyethylene drums and is ideal for culturing carp. Experiments using this system show satisfactory results: a 100-g common carp, fed with prepared pellets, can grow to 750-1 000 g after a three-month culture period.

China. Zheng et al. (1988) trace the history of catfish culture in China and describe the new and profitable methods and techniques used in the artificial propagation and rearing of fingerlings and adult catfish (Clarias fuscus, C. batrachus, C. lazera and their hybrids).

Nepal. Sharma (1992) presents the basic socio-demographic characteristics of farmers culturing carp in cages in the Pokara Valley of Nepal, analyzes their production costs and returns, and discusses their management practices and problems such as the shortage of fry or fingerlings, limited market, high price of inputs and lack of skilled labour. Using stratified random sampling in choosing 188 respondents, Sharma finds that the average farm size is 94 m3 and the average investment required is $US 4.00/m3. With an annual production of 2.03 kg/m3 , the net benefit is $US 1.73/m3.

India. Bhaumik et al. (1988) present the problems besetting exotic carp culture in India, as perceived by the farmers. The problems identified by the farmers include: non-availability of credit; lack of knowledge about modern culture technology; low market price; non-availability of vegetation for grass carp; poaching; consumer preference for other species; poisoning of ponds; and lack of water bodies. Solutions suggested by the farmers are provision of credit; more exposure to modern technology; supply of exotic carp seed; production of fodder for grass carp, marketing efforts; and control of poaching and poisoning of ponds.

Several studies in India have proven that polyculture of carp is more profitable than monoculture. Mathew (1989) discusses the results of experiments on the composite culture of exotic carp with common, silver, Indian and grass carps. Exotic carp contributes to the increase in production and to the improvement of profitability. The net profit is highest in five-species combinations. Ranadir and Tripathi (1991) also analyze the production costs-and-returns of a six-species combination (three indigenous and three exotic) and a three-species combination of indigenous carps. The different species use different niches in the pond ecosystem. Figures show that net gain (marginal revenue less marginal cost from the introduction of exotic species) is highest from the six-species combination, about NRs 12 500/ha/yr.

The studies of Tripathi and Mishra (1986) on carp polyculture and of Chinnappan et al. (1991) on carp cage culture further prove the profitability of the enterprise and its suitability for rural adoption, because it is low-cost and labour-intensive.

Jhingran and Ghosh (1988) espouse fish culture using domestic waste as practised in West Bengal. The re-use of wastewater effluents for aquaculture offers attractive economic and social benefits besides reducing pollution of surface water resources.

Thailand. Wattanutchariya and Panayotou (1982) discuss the economics of catfish culture in Thailand. The authors analyze the cost structure, profitability and production technology with emphasis on feed cost, particularly trash fish. They also compare the profit margins of small-scale and large-scale farmers and of experienced and inexperienced farmers. They conclude that there is inefficiency in input use (too much fry and trash fish and too little broken rice and fuel used) and recommend that research and extension be intensified to determine the optimum feed formulas and to find ways of controlling diseases. It is also recommended that credit be extended to small farmers.

Boonyaratpalin et al. (1985) discuss the culture system of snakehead, including site suitability, stocking and rearing fry, feed and feeding, diseases and parasites, and harvesting and production costs-and-returns.

Taiwan (P.C.). Eel farming is the most important aquaculture activity in Taiwan (P.C.) (Chien and Liao, 1992). Indeed, eel is Taiwan’s top agricultural export to Japan. Chien and Liao describe the stages in the development of the eel industry since its introduction in 1923, and analyze its technical, social and economic aspects. Hwang (1992) on the other hand discusses the factors that have made eel farming less profitable. Since 1978, feed cost has risen by 50% while labour cost has doubled. Eel hatcheries have not been successful in producing juveniles and so the industry is dependent on wild-caught ones.

Philippines. Pen and cage culture of various species of freshwater fishes such as tilapia, carp, catfish, and milkfish are prevalent in Laguna Lake in the Philippines. Mines and Baluyot (1988) describe the impact of the Laguna de Bay Fishpen Development Project on the livelihood and social conditions of the participating sustenance fishers. The participants’ income from the fishpens is not enough to pay loan amortizations, so they set up traps/corrals and gillnets around their fishpens to catch fish to augment their income. The study recommends higher stocking densities and stock manipulation, and the restructuring of loans to allow longer amortization periods.

Pacific States. Asian catfish is cultured on Guam albeit on a very limited scale - less than 3% of annual aquaculture production (Brown and Crisostomo, 1994). Fitzgerald (1988) makes a comparative cost-and-return analysis of four species monocultured and polycultured on Guam: (i) giant freshwater prawn; (ii) milkfish; (iii) Asian catfish; and (iv) tilapia hybrid. Asian catfish monoculture shows the greatest capital return, while the tilapia polyculture has the lowest return on investment (less than 1% and requiring 92% of the total production to reach a breakeven.)

3.2 Brackishwater/coastal aquaculture

For centuries, Asians have engaged in brackishwater or coastal aquaculture. Traditionally, the ponds were stocked with fry and filled with nutrients by tidal flows. Farming was extensive, entailed low cost and had little or no adverse effects on the environment. Brackishwater aquaculture used to be the domain of small-scale farmers who polycultured shrimp and fish for household and domestic market consumption. Shrimp, milkfish and crabs were the primary produce.

The development of modern technologies for intensive culture and the increasing demand for fish and shrimp, particularly for export, have drastically changed the landscape of brackishwater aquaculture during the past two decades. Intensive culture systems require huge amounts of capital for infrastructure and equipment, technical expertise and commercial inputs, primarily imported feeds and chemicals. Thus, the small-scale farmers have been edged out by big-time investors. In response to the huge demand for shrimp for export, pond owners shifted from the polyculture of shrimp and fish to the monoculture of shrimp. This resulted in the decline of production of milkfish, which is usually polycultured with shrimp and sold to the local market. Mangrove forests were cleared to give way to more ponds. Fish were deprived of their habitat, and people of their source of food and livelihood. In the ponds, water pollution and chemicals have given birth to new strains of viruses and bacteria that are causing mass kill or slow growth of fish and shrimp.

3.2.1 Shrimp culture

Asia produces most of the farm-raised shrimp in the world. In 1995, 78% (558 000 mt) of the world output came from Asia. The top producers are Thailand, Indonesia, China, India and Viet Nam. The Philippines, Taiwan (P.C.), Malaysia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are also major producers of world-class shrimp.

At the Second International Conference on Prawns/Penaeids and Shrimps in July 1996 in the Philippines, Shang et al. (1996) reviewed the trends and economics of the hatchery and grow-out phases of shrimp farming in Asia (Table 2). The costs and returns of each culture system are compared within each country, and the economic efficiencies of the culture systems are compared among the producing countries. The comparative advantages enjoyed by each producing country are also evaluated. The paper concludes that in order for the shrimp industry to achieve sustainable development, producers should find ways to reduce production costs and to avert environmental degradation through biotechnical improvement and efficient management.

Taiwan (P.C.). Taiwan (P.C.) has the most advanced technology in intensive fish and shrimp culture. In the 1980s, it was the top producer of cultured shrimp (P. monodon). Chiang et al. (1986) report on the rapid growth and high profitability of the industry in Taiwan (P.C.). The authors describe the methods and analyze the economics of extensive, semi-intensive and intensive culture of shrimp. Annual production increased from 1 000 mt in 1976 to 30 000 mt in 1985. Although they predicted the continued development and expansion of the shrimp industry, leading eventually to stiff competition for markets, they failed to foresee the environmental degradation that crippled the shrimp industry in Taiwan (P.C.).

In view of the collapse of the shrimp industry in Taiwan (P.C.), Chen et al. (1995) and Shiu-nan et al. (1995) recommend the transfer of operations to other countries where foreign investments in shrimp culture will be acceptable. This will avert further ecological damage in Taiwan. The strategy hinges on the following principles: (i) investment should be combined with intangible assets such as technology and management; (ii) investment must involve horizontal and vertical integration; (iii) location must be properly evaluated, in consultation with local government agencies; and (iv) talented people must be recruited and provided with sufficient authority and incentives. Management techniques must adjust to the cultural traits and value systems of the host countries.

Philippines. In the mid-1980s, shrimp farming in the Philippines was once called the ‘sunshine industry’ because of its tremendous growth and significant contribution to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Various studies, sponsored by the Philippine Government and foreign funding institutions, were conducted to promote the growth of the industry. Hatch et al. (1996) present a comparative analysis of the investments, and costs and returns of the representative production systems (intensive, semi-intensive and extensive) of shrimp in the Philippines. The study shows that the internal rate of return of semi-intensive culture systems using earthen ponds is higher than those of intensive and extensive systems. Existing intensive facilities can be operated efficiently and profitably but new entrants using the intensive system will most likely need additional facilities for water treatment. In a related study, Agbayani et al. (1995) report that medium-sized prawn hatcheries give the highest return, compared to large- and small-scale operations. The economic indicators considered are investment requirements, unit costs, benefit-cost ratios and internal rates of return.

Table 2. Comparative production, cost, and profit of different scales of shrimp culture in Asia
  Thailand Indonesia Philippines Malaysia India Sri Lanka China Taiwan


Viet Nam Bangladesh
A. Intensive Systems
Prod’n (kg/ha/yr) 10727 4392 3057 6256 5048 7178 1229 2808 0 0
Costs ($US/kg)
Variable 3.27 3.40 4.67 4.07 2.93 3.80 3.09 3.98 0 0
Fixed 0.98 1.19 2.13 0.76 2.08 0.76 1.81 3.35 0 0
Total 4.26 4.59 6.81 4.83 5.01 4.56 4.90 7.33 0 0
Farm-gate price 6.89 6.48 7.10 7.57 6.61 8.65 4.91 12.46 0 0
Profit (US$ 4/kg) 6.63 1.89 0.29 2.74 1.60 4.09 0.01 5.13 0 0
B. Semi-intensive Systems
Prod’n (kg/ha/yr) 0 1479 2701 4693 2374 5040 848 0 662 1633
Costs (US$/kg)
Variable 0 2.95 3.67 3.9 4.34 3.59 1.51 0 2.23 7.46
Fixed 0 0.82 0.34 1.59 1.62 0.96 0.76 0 1.11 4.57
Total 0 3.78 4.01 5.50 5.96 4.56 2.27 0 3.34 12.04
Farm-gate price 0 6.83 6.55 7.03 7.27 7.56 3.21 0 5.63 5.26
Profit ($US/kg) 0 3.05 2.54 1.53 1.31 3.00 0.94 0 2.29 -6.78
C. Extensive Systems
Prod’n (kg/ha/yr) 394 162 260 0 696 2944 421 0 79 216
Costs( US$/kg)
Variable 0.84 2.66 1.60 0 3.08 1.52 0.88 0 1.04 2.73
Fixed .90 1.20 1.01 0 1.33 1.92 0.74 0 2.01 1.34
Total 1.74 3.86 2.61 0 4.42 3.45 1.62 0 3.04 4.07
Farm-gate price 3.63 6.84 7.28 0 7.19 7.05 3.05 0 2.73 6.90
Profit ($US/kg) 1.89 2.98 4.67 0 2.77 3.60 1.43 0 -0.31 2.83

Source:ADB/NACA ,1996.

Thailand. Shrimp farming is an important segment of the fishing industry and a major source of export earnings of Thailand. Export revenue from shrimp in 1994 was $US 1.3 billion, comprising 66% of total value of fish exports. It is the second largest export commodity, next to rice (Maw-Cheng, 1995). The area for shrimp production, however, may have reached its limit because of the soaring prices of coastal land, environmental concern over mangrove destruction, and the government policy of non-expansion of shrimp farming areas. Moreover, growers are also apprehensive that overproduction of cultured shrimp may result in decline of the export market price. Tokrishna and Benheim (1995) believe that shrimp farm development in southern Thailand may not be profitable in the long-run because of ineffective resource and pond management. Small farms that were converted from mangrove areas may eventually suffer losses after enjoying high but short-term returns if they are not properly managed.

Indonesia. Susilowati (1993) discusses the shift in Indonesia from the extensive system using natural feed to the intensive system using artificial feed and nutrition. The author notes that shrimp is being polycultured with marine coastal fishes such as Siganus spp., Lates calcarifer and Chanos chanos as live fish bait. It is also observed that investors start intensive culture of shrimp not only for the profit assured by advanced technology, but also for the ‘social prestige’ linked with the enterprise.

A study by Nugroho and Hutabarat (1995) indicates that the use of feed, pesticide and labour in intensive culture systems is more efficient, technically and economically, than in semi-intensive systems. On the other hand, a study by Troy (1994) shows that the average survival rate for intensive shrimp culture systems is 50%, and for semi-intensive culture systems it is 60%. Antibiotics are used for prophylactic and curative purposes, and zeolite for the control of ammonia levels. Farmers in East Java break the cycle of low yields of P. monodon by stocking P. merguiensis which requires less input, has a shorter culture period and a better survival rate. P. merguiensis, however, has a lower farm-gate price than P. monodon.

Bangladesh. Ahmed (1986) uses linear programming and parametric resource programming in analyzing the profitability of shrimp farming in Bangladesh. The author notes that with traditional methods of shrimp culture, there is little chance of increasing farm income. Adoption of improved technology would increase net revenue even for a small farm. Institutional credit would help shrimp farmers to expand operations which would improve their profitability and provide employment in the rural coastal villages.

Angell (1994) reports that fry gatherers have remained poor in spite of the booming shrimp culture industry, because of the high mortality of fry due to poor handling and because of a lack of an effective marketing system. Angell (1993; 1994; 1994) describes the field trials, conducted in 1990-93, which reared nursery cages tiger prawn (P. monodon) and giant freshwater prawn (M. rosenbergii) fry into fingerling to help the fry gatherers increase their earnings. Results show that cage nursery of a combination of hatchery-bred and wild-caught fry is profitable for freshwater prawn, but not for tiger shrimp.

India. Nielsen and Hall (1993) describe trial culture in floating cages of P. monodon fry into fingerlings to increase the income of West Bengali fry gatherers.

Jayaraman et al. (1988; 1988) report on the encouraging economic returns of shrimp farming in Andhra Pradesh and urge the Government to support the farmers by providing technical assistance throughout the culture period and by setting up seed banks, undertaking site selection and farm surveys, preparing project reports for bank loan purposes, and subsidizing at least 15% of the capital cost.

In a more recent study, Jayagopal and Sathiadhas (1993) assess the productivity and profitability of the different types of culture systems, compare their economic efficiencies, and estimate the input-output relationships in the semi-intensive and intensive culture systems. Their study shows that the intensive system yields higher profit than the semi-intensive system.

Pakistan. Ali (1986) discusses the potential of shrimp culture in Pakistan, examines the basic requirements of commercial shrimp ventures, identifies the species available for culture, describes the construction of ponds, and analyzes production economics.

Sri Lanka. Joseph (1993) traces the development of prawn farming in Sri Lanka, and provides data about production, marketing, economics, hatcheries, regulations and monitoring.

The shrimp industry on the west coast of Sri Lanka has attracted a large number of small-scale investors, primarily due to government policies supportive of the industry. The profitability of shrimp culture in Sri Lanka is analyzed by De Silva and Jayasinghe (1993). The development of a 0.6 ha pond requires SL Rs 237 000 investment and one cycle requires operating capital of SL Rs 135 000. The ROI is 21-24% and the payback period is four years. The lack of technical knowledge in selecting suitable sites and management skills are major constraints. There is also a need for imported feeds to supplement locally available ones in order to improve the economic returns.

A study by Reyntjens (1989) of the pen culture of P. monodon in a coastal lagoon in Merawela shows that this system is not economically feasible. Reyntjens discusses pen construction, nursery rearing, grow-out operations and costs and returns.

Malaysia. The study by Yahaya (1990) on the economic viability of shrimp farming reveals that intensive farming (33 pcs/m2 ) is generally more profitable than semi-intensive farming (16 pcs/m2). The cost of production/kg in the intensive system is $M 14.50 while that of the semi-intensive system is $M 15.90.

Pacific States. In New Caledonia, Penaeus Stylirostris is commercially produced by semi-intensive culture. The average yield is 3-4 t/ha/yr; the survival rate is 70%. Profitability is hampered by high costs of investments and labour (Pham, 1992).

The shrimp industry in Asia, however, is being killed by viral and bacterial diseases. The first country to experience a major crash due to diseases was Taiwan (1987-88), followed by China (1993-94), Indonesia (1994), India (1994-95) and the Philippines (1995-96). If so many human and capital resources were spent on developing technologies and feeds that would increase shrimp production, just as much or (perhaps) even more human effort and funds would be required to reverse the environmental degradation, to contain the diseases, and to right the social inequities spawned by the shrimp industry.

3.2.2 Milkfish culture

Milkfish (Chanos chanos Forsskal) has long been cultured in brackishwater ponds in Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan (P.C.). During the last few years, India and Viet Nam have also ventured into milkfish culture, either commercially or on an experimental basis.

Milkfish has been the primary aquaculture product of Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan (P.C.) (Smith et al., 1984). The combined annual production of milkfish production in these countries exceeds 300 000 mt. Yet, production has been on the decline since the 1970s-1980s due to a number of factors. The first is the shrimp boom. Increasing demand for export and rising prices have encouraged the fish farmers who used to monoculture milkfish, or polyculture it with shrimp, to shift to shrimp monoculture (Montalvo and Pomeroy, 1993). Smith et al (1984) cite the declining profitability of milkfish culture as another reason for farms to shift to other species like tilapia that have greater domestic or export market potential. The decline in milkfish culture profitability in the Philippines and Taiwan (P.C.) is due to a cost-price squeeze as input costs increase more rapidly than market prices. In Indonesia, high transport costs practically prevent the farmers from getting into major market centres.

Economic studies on all phases of milkfish production - from broodstock to post-harvest handling - have been made in the milkfish-producing countries.

Philippines. Librero et al. (1976; 1977; 1979; 1985) made the first comprehensive studies on the socio-economics - including cost-and-return analysis at the farm level - of the milkfish industry in the Philippines.

Agbayani et al. (1991) analyze the economics of the National Bangus Breeding Programme (NBBP), an integrated milkfish broodstock and hatchery system begun by the Government in 1981 to solve the perennial fry shortage problem. Economic analysis shows negative net present values and internal rate of return in a 15-year discounted cash flow computation. An upward trend is posted only on the sixth year of operation. The study recommends the privatization of the enterprise. In a related paper, Lopez (1994) discusses the factors that eventually led to the privatization of the milkfish breeding programme. The Government sold the broodstock in 14 stations located in different parts of the country to private growers and hatchery operators.

In the nursery phase of milkfish culture, Baliao et al. (1987) show the profitability of buying extra fry during the peak season of wild-caught fry and stunting them for later stocking. Farmers are encouraged to stunt their own stock rather than buy at higher prices from nursery operators.

In the grow-out phase, the modular system of culturing milkfish in brackishwater ponds is more profitable than straight-run culture methods (Agbayani et al., 1989). Aside from a high ROI (68.81%) and short payback period (1.25 yr), the modular system offers the advantages of better production and financial planning.

Chong et al. (1982) analyze the sub-systems of milkfish aquaculture - fry procurement, transformation and delivery - to determine where further efficiencies of resource use can be obtained. They find that major inefficiencies occur in the transformation sub-system rather than in the fry procurement or delivery sub-systems, and that production may be substantially increased if mortality rate is lowered during rearing and more supplementary inputs like fertilizer are applied.

Chong et al. (1984) also discuss the constraints to the adoption of more intensive fertilizer application rates, as perceived by milkfish growers. Some 56 explanatory variables - categorized into socio-economic, institutional, physical and biotechnical parameters - are hypothesized to explain variations in fertilizer use. The study concludes that milkfish farmers are responsive to relative prices of inputs and output and will adjust their fertilizer expenditure accordingly. However, many farmers in some places cannot increase their fertilizer use because of the high cost of credit and organic fertilizers. There are two studies, undertaken ten years apart, on the socio-economics of milkfish fry and fingerlings. In the first study, Smith (1981) debunks the alleged imperfections of the fry and fingerling industry, namely the shortage of catch to meet the milkfish farming requirement; the high fry mortality rate during transport; the ailure of the pricing system to perform its spatial and allocative functions; and the exploitation of fry gatherers and pond owners by middlemen and nursery operators. Smith’s study also shows the following: the adequacy of the 1.35 billion wild-caught fry to meet the 1974 annual stocking requirements; the high mortality occurs during rearing (54%) and not during transport (6.6%); the monthly average prices of fry in 17 major trading regions are significantly correlated; the concessionaires are unable to take full advantage of their monopsony due to the competitive fringe of ‘smugglers’; and the concession system is a form of indirect municipal tax on fry gatherers rather than exploitation. The second study, by Chan (1991), compares the economic structures of two adjacent milkfish fry gathering villages in the northern Philippines. One site has beaches classified as part of the national seashore park and the other is under municipal management and concessioned to a group of resident small-scale fishermen. Chan identifies and discusses the major differences in their economic structures, defines and analyzes their marketing systems, enumerates and recommends solutions to their problems (ranging from gear inefficiency and storage inadequacy to dwindling catch), and discusses the significant economic and social contributions of milkfish fry gathering.

Taiwan (P.C.). Lee (1982; 1983) presents an economic analysis of Taiwan’s milkfish resource system and sub-systems, namely fry procurement, baitfish rearing, market-size rearing and marketing. A fry gatherer receives 80% of the price paid by the pond owner who, in turn, receives 74% of the retail price of market-size fish. Rearing baitfish for tuna longlines is more profitable than culturing market-size; however, the demand for baitfish is levelling off.

Shang (1976) compares the economics of milkfish culture in the Philippines and Taiwan (P.C.). The author discusses the relative costs of production in these countries in terms of output per unit input (land and labour), the differences in production and marketing practices, and the advantages and disadvantages of the different farming practices.

India. Dorairaj et al. (1984) describe the ecology of certain areas of the Gulf of Mannar in India, where fry and fingerlings congregate in large numbers in tidal pools under the shade of dense mangrove forests. The authors also analyze the methods and economics of fry and fingerling collection, packing and transportation.

Krishna et al. (1989) report on experiments on the extensive and semi-intensive milkfish culture. Extensive culture yield is 1.6-1.0 t/ha while that of semi-intensive is 3.8-4 t/ha. The study recommends that fish farmers who cannot afford to go into prawn farming take up milkfish culture.

Lazarus and Nandakumaran (1986; 1987) report on their experimental culture of milkfish in polyethylene film-lined ponds dug out on sandy beaches. The authors describe pond preparations, seed collection, feeding regimens, and survival and growth rates in the ponds.

Joseph and Vadhyar (1994) compare the survival and growth rates and economic returns of milkfish culture using two different fertilizer treatments; one organic and the other inorganic. The pond treated with organic fertilizer (cow dung) gives a high 298% return on operating capital while the one treated with chemical fertilizers gives only a 3% return.

Pacific States. Milkfish is also cultured in some of the Pacific States, notably Kiribati. Milkfish is primarily used as baitfish for tuna, a major export of the island states. Uwate (1990) discusses the economics of milkfish culture in Kiribati, including problems involved in the development of aquaculture projects.

The sustainability of milkfish farming in Asia will rely heavily on the development of broodstock breeding and hatchery technologies. With the problems besetting the shrimp industry, farmers are shifting back to milkfish. Fry from the wild will be unable to supply the requirements of growers. Through international cooperation, milkfish fry production technologies have been developed for both extensive and intensive systems (Lee et al., 1995).

Taiwan (P.C.) leads in the milkfish hatchery technology; it produced 1 156 million fry in 1991.

In the Philippines, the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC-AQ/D) has embarked on the dispersal of milkfish hatchery technology. In early 1997, technicians of seven shrimp hatcheries near SEAFDEC-AQ/D were trained in the hatchery technology developed by the Department.

The nascent milkfish hatcheries have posted significant production. However, fish farmers’ opinions about hatchery-reared fry are divided. Some say hatchery-reared fry grow slowly and suffer from abnormalities; others say hatchery-bred fry are as good as wild-caught fry, in terms of survival and growth rate. In a forum sponsored by SEAFDEC-AQ/D in July 1997, some farmers testified that abnormalities such as open gills and head enlargement are negligible (1 to 15%) and manageable. Rearing the fry in nursery ponds for 30 days has enabled the fish farmers to eliminate those with abnormalities.

3.2.3 Crab culture

The Scylla serrata is the most popular mudcrab species cultured in Asia. Monocultured or polycultured with milkfish or shrimp, mudcrab fetch high prices from both the domestic and international markets.

Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan mudcrab is well-known in the export market. Singapore absorbs 90% of Sri Lanka’s mudcrab production. Jayamanne (1992) reports an increasing trend in mudcrab production: from 1 422 mt in 1980 to 2 309 mt in 1983. To sustain the growth of the industry, Jayamanne recommends the prohibition of capturing immature crabs, the education of fisherfolk, and the development of better culture techniques.

Philippines. Agbayani et al. (1990) discuss the economic feasibility of the monoculture of S. serrata at different stocking densities in brackishwater ponds. Stocking at 5 000 crabs/ha has the highest mean weight, survival rate, relative growth increment, and best feed conversion ratio. Consistently, the economic indicators such as ROI are highest and the payback period is shortest.

India. Rajasekaran and Whiteford (1993) describe the culture of crabs in rice fields in southern India. The authors discuss the socio-cultural factors that influence the catching and consumption of crabs, and recommend policy guidelines for the conservation and propagation of rice-crab farming.

Pacific States. S. serrata is also cultured in New Caledonia. Delathiere (1988; 1990) presents the reproduction, growth, length-weight relationship of the crab, as well as the socio-economic aspects of crab culture.

3.3 Marine aquaculture/seafarming

In Asia and the Pacific, molluscs, seaweeds, pearl oysters and sponges are popularly maricultured. Mainly the domain of small-scale farmers, mariculture has provided employment to coastal populations, augmented their food supply, and contributed significantly to the foreign exchange earnings of the producing countries. The production cost is relatively low; artificial feeds are not needed. The vast coastal waters of the Asia-Pacific countries are conducive to mariculture but accessibility problems and pollution have hampered expansion of the industry.

Small-scale fishermen in Hong Kong (China) engage in marine fish farming in cages (Cheng, 1982). This method requires low-capital input but has a high risk due to natural disasters such as typhoons, red tide, pollution, diseases and the uncertainty of fish seed.

3.3.1 Mollusc culture

Cultured molluscs include oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops. The total production of molluscs in 1995 increased to 5.04 million mt, from the 1994 figure of 4.025 million mt.

Philippines. Oysters and mussels are the dominant economically-important molluscs in the Philippines. Mollusc farming, which thrives in most parts of the Philippine archipelago, has been annually devastated for the past two decades by the ‘red tide’ phenomenon.

Agbayani and Abella (1989) discuss the contribution of the mollusc industry to the Philippines’ food production and foreign exchange earnings, the culture methods, and marketing system.

Samonte et al. (1994) note that oyster and mussel farming in western Visayas has been increasing because of the fisherfolk’s need for supplementary sources of income to compensate for their dwindling catch. The farmers belong to the marginalized sector of society; about 30% of their income comes from oyster and mussel farming. The study recommends that the impoverished farmers form cooperatives so that they can avail themselves of financing and can market their products more efficiently.

A related study by Siar et al. (1992) discovers conflicts arising from oyster and mussel farming in western Visayas. The conflicts are among the following: (i) oyster/mussel farmers and owners/operators of pumpboats plying the rivers where the farms are located; (ii) oyster/mussel farmers and fishpond operators whose fishponds surround oyster/mussel farms; and (iii) oyster/mussel farmers themselves who practise the bottomline method of culture.

Malaysia. The culture methods, cycles, marketing practices, economic returns and people’s participation in small-scale culture of the flat oyster (Ostrea folium) and the slipper oyster (Crassostrea iredalei) in Malaysia are described by Nair and Lineblad (1991) and Nair et al. (1993), respectively.

Myanmar. Pearl has been cultivated in Myanmar for 40 years. Tun (1994) traces the history of the industry and describes the culture process - from fishing and seeding to harvesting. Local and foreign investors are involved in the industry.

India. Kunju et al. (1978) report the socio-economic conditions of mussel farmers in Calicut and analyze the industry’s progress and constraints.

Singapore. The study of Cheong and Loy (1982) show that it is economically viable to culture green mussels on a single 150 m2 raft using polycoco ropes, as well as in 0.5-ha and 0.75-ha farms. Labour constitutes the largest variable cost; sensitivity tests show that increases in labor cost have greater impact than decreases in raft cost.

Korea. A major concern of mollusc farmers in Korea, as in the Philippines, is the occurrence of red tide. Park (1991) reports on the serious economic losses suffered by fish farmers whose mollusc and finfish farms are affected by red tide. Nine species of toxic phytoplankton have been identified as causing shellfish poisoning and massive fishkill.

Pacific States. Giant clam farming has been found to be suitable in the waters surrounding the island states in the Pacific. Hviding (1993) surveys and examines the important elements of the context of village-based giant clam mariculture. Supplemented by published and unpublished literature, Hviding’s paper also discusses the social, cultural and legal parameters that are typically relevant to mariculture development in the Pacific.

The economic potentials of village-based giant clam farming are analyzed by Hambrey and Gervis (1993). The giant clam’s abductor muscle and mantle are unlikely to contribute to more than one-half of the farm-gate price at which giant clam farming is financially viable. There is a need to develop a high-value market for the shell. Other disincentives to giant clam farming are the high investment requirements, long payback period and the fixed ratio of meat to shell.

Leung et al. (1994) compare the production costs of two hatchery systems - raceway and floating tank - of giant clams on the Marshall Islands. In an eight-month culture period, the floating tank system’s cost is US$ 0.23/clam while that of the raceway system is $US 0.41. Extending the culture period to three years correspondingly increases the cost to $US 5.08/clam for the combined raceway hatchery system and floating platform nursery, and $US 4.83/clam for the floating tank hatchery system and floating platform nursery. After the clams grow for another two years in shallow fringe reefs, the final cost is $US 9.44/clam for the raceway hatchery-bred and $US 9.13/clam for the floating tank hatchery-bred.

Lindsay (1995) discusses the $US 500 000 re-seeding programme of giant clam on Yap State. Started in 1984, the programme has been incurring losses due to theft, neglect, lack of skills and natural calamities. The little that survived to maturity was reproduced in situ. Their offspring have been relocated, in small numbers, to several reefs. In spite of the problems, Yap’s programme is the first documented case of successful recruitment and re-seeding. However, Lindsay wonders whether the effort, time and money spent on the project, whose success in terms of economic return, stock enhancement and reef conservation is under question, would have been better spent on other more beneficial programmes.

3.3.2 Seaweed culture

FAO estimates worldwide production of seaweeds in 1995 to be 6 million mt, up from 4 million mt in 1988. The Asia and the Pacific region accounted for 80% of the 1988 production (Richards-Rajadurai, 1990), and 99% in 1990 (Montalvo and Pomeroy, 1993). World demand for seaweeds is growing at 10% annually.

Seaweed farming is labour intensive; it is therefore ideal for most Asia-Pacific countries with dense and unemployed or underemployed coastal populations. But even for countries experiencing labour shortages like Japan and Taiwan (P.C.), seaweed culture is still attractive because of the increasing demand for and rising prices of agar.

Smith (1987) reviews the available economic data on four major seaweed species in the South China Sea region, namely: the red seaweeds Euchema, Gracilaria and Porphyra, and the green Caulerpa. The report indicates the good profitability of small farms of one hectare or less. The industry has lured families out of full-time fishing into seaweed farming, particularly Euchema. Smith notes that economic data on seaweed farming is scanty and fails to address key issues such as the yield and profit variability among farms. Due to data inadequacies, Smith says that the future of small-scale farming remains a matter of conjecture.

Tseng and Fei (1987) present the economics of seaweed culture in the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China. Some 670 000 people in these countries produced about 4 million mt of seaweed in 1986.

China. Seaweed species commercially cultured in China are Laminaria, Undaria, Porphyra, Gelidum, Gracilaria, Euchema and Macrocystis. Wang (1988) describes the culture techniques, harvesting methods, processing, utilization and marketing of Laminaria, and Wang (1993), that of Porphyra.

Li and Gu (1992) report on an innovation in the traditional method of culturing kelp (Laminaria japonica) on ropes in rafts. With the new method of tying floats to the seedling ropes, production has significantly increased, by 33% in 1990 and 35.6% in 1991. Kelp cultured in this manner is also thicker, whether dried or fresh.

Philippines. Seaweeds have become a major export item of the Philippines and seaweed farming has generated considerable employment in coastal communities. Hurtado-Ponce et al. (1996) report that the farming of Kappahycus alvarezii in the province of Antique, central Philippines, has brought tremendous economic benefits to the marginal farmers. The return on investment of K. alvarezii farming in central Philippines is 93% for the raft monoline method, and 243% for the bottom line method (Samonte et al., 1993). In the southern Philippines, Alih (1990) estimates that the rate of return on seaweed farming is 61% for E. denticulum and 150% for E. alvarezii.

A study by Padilla (1994) finds limited economies of scale in seaweed farming in the Philippines. Seaweed farming technology is evaluated from a translog cost-function estimate.

Indonesia. Adnan and Porse (1987) describe the successful culture of Eucheuma in Indonesia. The authors claim that although attempts have been made to culture Eucheuma in countries in Central America, the Caribbean, South Pacific, and Southeast Asia, it is only in Indonesia where commercial farming has been successful. Of the eight farming projects launched in Indonesia since the 1960s only one project failed. Average annual production is 3 000-4 000 t dry weight. Kiteartika (1988) and Firdausy and Tisdell (1991) present an economic analysis of Euchema farming in Bali. Economic indicators are: 153% internal rate of return, 123% accounting rate of return, and 7.8 months payback period. From a national economic standpoint, seaweed farming is a good investment because it is labour-intensive and does not require imported inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals and feeds.

Taiwan (P.C.). Shang (1976) describes the cultivation and analyzes the costs and returns of Gracilaria in Taiwan. The author concludes that despite the labour shortage, seaweed farming will remain an attractive venture because of increasing demand and rising prices. In the mid-1980s, however, production declined because farmers shifted to prawn culture (Ajisaka and Chiang, 1993). With the outbreak of diseases that crippled the shrimp industry, the farmers are returning to seaweed farming. Yet, the labour shortage has pressured farmers to sell their produce to nearby abalone farmers, even at a lower cost, and not to distant agar factories.

India. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in Mandapan, India, has been undertaking experiments on the culture of economically-important seaweeds since 1972 (Chennubhotla, 1988; Chennubhotla et al., 1988). The experiments cover the economics, favourable seasons, optimum duration of culture periods, effects of environmental elements on seaweed culture, seaweed coastal resources and their potential for exploitation and culture.

Coppen and Nambiar (1991) survey the Indian seaweed industry and its primary products (agar and sodium alginate), and examine the technical and economic aspects of the industry. The authors conclude that seaweed farming contributes to the national economy because it supplies the market with products that the country would otherwise have to import. It also provides employment to women in the coastal villages.

Thailand. Edwards et al. (1982) analyze the importance of seaweeds and seaweed products in the Thai economy. Since the 1930s, there have been suggestions to begin a seaweed industry in Thailand but so far there has been no implementation. The production of high-quality, bacteriological-grade agar may not be feasible due to the absence of a significant Gelidium population. Seaweed is relatively unimportant in the Thai diet but government statistics show increasing importation of agar and algin for industrial and pharmaceutical uses.

3.3.3 Pearl oyster culture

Explorations in the Indo-Pacific region led to the discovery of pearls that are much larger than those found in the Americas, Arabia and India (George, 1994). The black pearls from Polynesia are particularly attractive. Cultivating the mother-of-pearl oysters has become a profitable venture in Asia and the Pacific.

Gervis and Sims (1992) describe the biology and ecology of four species of pearl oysters from the family Pteridae, P. fucata, P. maxima, P. margaritifera and Pteria penguin, and discuss the culture techniques, research needs, economics and marketing. They foresee the proliferation of P.

margaritifera and P. maxima culture in the Indo-Pacific, and a potential for P. fucata culture in India and Sri Lanka.

Pacific States. A study by Tiroba (1995) on the farming of mother-of-pearl, mainly Pinctada margaritifera and P. maxima, shows that there is a thriving industry in the Solomon Islands. On spat-collection sites, the average harvest per collector is 3-4.4. The study recommends the investigation of other sites that may have abundant spats for small-scale farming.

On the Cook Islands, Thomforde et al. (1994) trace the history of pearl oyster farming on Tongavera. The authors discuss the causes of the islanders’ initial resistance to, and lack of interest in, pearl farming, namely: fear of loss of control over the lagoons; aversion to increasing interference from the central government on lagoon affairs; and fear of ‘biological catastrophe’ (the islanders, who have been traumatized by the nuclear testing around the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls, equated the word ‘nucleus’, which refers to the beads used in spherical pearl seeding, with ‘nuclear’). The authors also discuss the slow process of acceptance and eventual licensing of pearl farming in the early 1990s.

Rapaport (1994) also reports on the social conflicts arising from black pearl farming on Tuamotus. Among the atoll communities, there have been deep divisions on the criteria to be applied for allocating lagoon concessions. Management efforts by the Tahitian administration have been frustrated by the lack of concern of other communities.

3.3.4 Sponge culture

Pacific States. On Ponhpei, a region of the Federated States of Micronesia, the islanders are engaged in the commercial culture of sponge as a source of supplemental income. Low in capital investment and labour requirement, a 0.134-ha farm can have an annual income of $US 1 744 starting in year 4 of operation (Adams et al., 1995). Profitability is most sensitive to changes in opportunity, wage rate and market price.

Clarke (1995) explores the socio-cultural, biological and technical factors affecting sponge culture on remote Pacific atolls. Despite the apparent abundance of seed stock and a marine tenure system conducive to exclusive use, several social factors, such as traditional leaders’ view of sponge as an exploitable resource, may preclude private or indigenous investment. Clarke urges the island governments to extend technical and resource support, but not subsidy, to farmers.


Vital to the growth of the aquaculture industry are adequate post-harvest handling and processing facilities, adequate road and efficient transportation networks, and effective marketing systems. There are relatively few studies made on the important links between hatcheries or fry warehouses and ponds, and between ponds and dining tables.

4.1 Farm-to-market roads and transportation

The profitability of fish farms located in far-flung areas is greatly eroded by the inadequacy or lack of farm-to-market roads and the high cost of transportation. Indonesian milkfish farmers in remote coastal areas complain of the high cost of regional transportation that practically isolates them from major markets that can give better prices for their produce (Smith et al., 1984; Saeffudin, 1979). In the Philippines, tilapia traders’ profits are diminished by the high cost of transportation and by the low prices that stale fish fetch after long-distance travel (Escover et al., 1985; Oliva, 1985).

4.2 Post-harvest handling and processing facilities

The availability of adequate post-harvest handling and processing facilities is critical in maintaining the delicate balance between supply and demand because of the perishable nature and the seasonality of fish products. More significantly, a post-harvest infrastructure is needed to produce high-value processed products. The majority of the papers reviewed here expose the lack of such facilities; others relate some singular efforts to overcome problems.

Eys (1988) notes that the constraints facing the Asia-Pacific seafood industry in producing and marketing high value-added products are the lack of, or inadequacy of, product development facilities and skilled labour, packaging and marketing strategy, and tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Nair and Girija (1995) expose problems in post-harvest handling and processing facilities in India that have stunted attempts at value-added processing and innovative marketing of products as ‘convenience food’, and at converting process waste into feeds. The same problems beset the Indonesian shrimp and milkfish industries (Chamberlain, 1991; Smith et al., 1984; Saeffudin, 1979).

In the Philippines, a lack of storage facilities erodes the profits of tilapia traders in the Bicol region (Escover, 1985) and Mindanao (Oliva, 1985).

There are also reports of successful attempts at solving post-harvest problems. For example, in response to the increasing demand for live fish from speciality restaurants in major Asia-Pacific cities, experiments were made in China to determine the best method of packaging and transporting live fish that will reduce or eliminate mortality in transit. One method that was developed has a 100% survival rate (Zhang et al., 1993).

In the mollusc industry of the Philippines, Agbayani and Abella (1989) report that techniques for depurating oysters have been developed by a government agency, an international research institution and a university. But mollusc farmers, who are mainly small-scale operators, are hesitant, or even refuse, to adopt these techniques because of the required additional investments for depurating equipment and labour. Furthermore, there is a small market for the more expensive depurated oysters and mussels.

McCoy et al. (1988) report that in Thailand, large-scale operators process large mussels into dried-butterfly form, while small-scale operators either dry or boil them. The former make a little profit but the latter normally just break even or even suffer a loss.

Tisdell (1994) also reports on the processing of shells into ornaments and floor tiles in Indonesia, Japan, the Pacific States, and the Philippines.

In the shrimp fry business, Angell (1994; 1994) states that Bangladeshi fry gatherers do not make much money because of the high mortality of fry due to poor handling. In India, Joshi and Raje (1993) describe experiments in the packaging of M. rosenbergii fry to solve mortality problems during transport from source to pond. The conventional method of packaging fry in oxygenated polyethylene bags with a certain amount of water is better than the unconventional method of dry packaging in aquatic weeds and chilled sawdust. The experiments also determine the ideal packaging density, post-larvae size and age for certain delivery distances, and the modes of transport.

4.3 Marketing systems

There are few studies made on the marketing systems of specific commodities. Some report on the efficiency of existing marketing systems; others report their inefficiency or the need for improvements of presently-used systems; still others merely describe the existing systems.

China has evolved effective marketing systems for its aquatic products (ESCAP, 1983; FAO, 1979). Study tours in China have been organized for fish farmers and traders from other countries to learn from the Chinese experience.

In Indonesia, Kusnadi et al. (1990) find that marketing systems for common carp grown in floating cages in the Saguling Reservoir respond effectively to changing conditions, and move fish efficiently at low cost, with small margins for local traders and retailers.

Habib et al. (1994) report on inadequate marketing facilities in Bangladesh. Jhingran and Paul (1988) find imperfections in India’s marketing systems but note that land-based culture fisheries are favourably placed.

In South Korea, inadequate marketing information, among other factors, constrains the producers of seabass, rock fish, red sea bream and puffer fish (Lee and Yagi, 1993).

In the Philippines, the marketing system of tilapia, as well as other fish, involves one to four intermediaries before it reaches the consumer. Long distances between sources and outlets is a marketing problem for producers and traders in the Bicol region (Escover, 1985) and in Mindanao (Oliva, 1985), but not for those in central Luzon (Torres and Navera, 1985).

Wild-caught milkfish fry in the Philippines pass through several hands before reaching the grow-out pond: from gatherer to concessionaire to one or two dealers to nursery operator to grow-out farmer. The system suffers from several constraints: mistrust due to lack of an accurate counting mechanism; financial pressure on sellers due to cash advances from partnership with buyers; and the existing permit and auxiliary invoice system of the Government that prohibits inter-regional transport of fry (Smith et al. 1979).

In Taiwan (P.C.), wild-caught milkfish fry also pass through middlemen, but Lee (1983) does not mention problems similar to those constraining the Philippine milkfish fry industry. Fry gatherers receive 80% of the price paid by fishpond owners. Marketable-size milkfish are sold mainly through wholesalers; only 15% through cooperatives. Producers, who get 74% of the retail price, prefer to sell to wholesalers because they offer more flexible credit, payment and transport facilities.

There are also several papers that examine or describe the marketing systems of prawn: Angell (1990) for Bangladesh; Chamberlain (1991) for Indonesia; and FAO/Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (1980) and Artachinda (1979) for Thailand.

There are few marketing studies on molluscs and seaweeds, and these are mainly parts of bigger studies. In the Philippines, Agbayani and Lim (1996) and Samonte et al. (1994) suggest that oyster and mussel farmers set up cooperatives that can give them better prices for their produce, in order to solve their problem of not having an efficient marketing system. The cooperatives will also enable them to obtain loans from formal lending institutions. In Indonesia, Elsy (1987) proposes a marketing strategy for both domestic and export markets for finfish, green mussels, seaweeds, cockles and oysters. In Malaysia, part of Angell’s (1988) study is on the distribution and supply patterns of oysters.


There are few empirical studies done specifically on consumer demand analysis, prices and market development for aquaculture products in Asia and the Pacific. Research on market demand may be constrained by the lack of data on fish consumption and distribution, as well as the lack of funding.

The relatively few papers that touch on market situations deal mainly with small-scale producer cases. Not one paper was located that deals with the implications of the advent of information technology and of global trade treaties on aquaculture product markets and marketing. It has been generally observed that demand for fish and other seafood has become sensitive to health concerns for a low-fat diet, as well as to socio-economic and demographic factors such as age, lifestyle, and religion. Yet, none of the more than 700 papers from Asia and the Pacific reviewed in the Bibliography deal with this phenomenon.

5.1 Domestic market

Domestic markets absorb most of the low-priced aquaculture products like milkfish, tilapia, carp, catfish, eel, snakeheads, oysters, mussels and edible seaweeds. Steady economic growth in most Asia-Pacific countries has provided disposable income to consumers and has helped expand markets for high-priced produce like shrimp and crab. Shrimp and crab are now staples in the catering business and regulars in supermarkets, either live or chilled (Ferdouse, 1992).

In the fry and fingerling business of Malaysia, Kuperan et al. (1988) find that the market is getting thinner. Unless grow-out farmers expand their operations or new areas are opened for aquaculture, further investments in the fry and fingerling business will result in reduced returns or losses.

5.2 Export market

Shrimp is the major export product of aquaculture, followed by seaweeds. Mudcrab, milkfish, tilapia, eel, and giant clam are also traded internationally but on a much smaller scale.

Shrimp is exported mainly to Japan. This market has been growing for the past 20 years. Since 1980, Japan’s annual average importation of shrimp is 160 000 t (Hirasawa, 1985). Singapore, Hong Kong and some developed European countries also import shrimp (Chamberlain, 1991).

Thai exports of shrimp to Japan, Hong Kong (China) and the USA have been increasing, but exports to other parts of the world are declining (Artachinda, 1979).

Seaweed markets are primarily Japan, Korea and some western countries where 90% of the colloid industry is concentrated. Demand for phycocolloid has been growing at 10-30% annually. The USA is an emerging market (Richards, 1990).

Giant clam meat, dried and raw, has a market in Taiwan (P.C.). There is also an interest in Australia, but lack of general knowledge in the culinary preparation of clam meat interferes with export prospects (Tisdell and Chen, 1994).

Taiwan (P.C.) eel production has a good market in Japan but expansion is curtailed by the lack of eel seed (Hwang, 1992).

5.3 Prices

The year-round nature of aquaculture production has helped stabilize fish prices and protected consumers from extreme price swings due to seasonal supply as experienced in wild-caught fish. Taiwan’s Hwang (1992), however, fears that too many fish are being produced and the markets may not be able to absorb them.

Prices of aquaculture products are not only dictated by the law of supply and demand but also by the fishfarmers’ lack of capital. Mudiantono (undated), Saefuddin (1979), Oliva (1985), Lee (1983) and Smith et al. (1979) describe how middlemen and wholesalers lend money to cash-strapped fish farmers and fry gatherers and then pressurize them to sell their products at a much lower price than the fair market price.

The opening of international markets is a boon as well as a bane to fish producers: they find greater market opportunities as well as greater competition, which means lower prices. Hirasawa (1985) advises shrimp producers to reduce costs because of severe competition in the market. Park and Yagi (1993) discuss how Korea’s maricultured fish prices have sunk with the importation of live fish from Japan.

Consumer preference also dictates the prices of certain species. Brown and Crisostomo (1994) note that catfish has a ‘poor image’ in Guam. Tilapia also once had a low-acceptance level in the Philippines (Escover, 1985) and India (Mitra et al., 1989).


The literature on the impact of aquaculture on the environment is mostly from the 1990s, with a few papers from the 1980s. Most papers are multidisciplinary, relating the socio-economic impacts and biological effects of aquaculture technologies in the different water bodies. Policy studies relating to the environment, however, are limited. There is a need to convert findings of environmental studies and socio-economic impact assessments into policy statements. Policy studies provide a solid basis for policy formulation and implementation which will ensure sustainable development and equitable distribution of benefits from resources.

The environmental degradation, social conflicts and biological disasters that have been engendered by aquaculture practices, particularly intensive shrimp culture, are universally felt in the Asia and the Pacific region.

6.1 Ecological damage

6.1.1 Destruction of mangrove forests

In order to make way for shrimp and fish farms, thousands of hectares of mangrove forests have been cleared without regard for the consequences such as the destruction of fish habitat, the deprivation to coastal communities of their source of food and livelihood, erosion, siltation and exposure to the dangers of flood and typhoon.

This is the most written-about environmental issue. On the regional level, the literature includes that by Philipps (1995), Chou et al. (1991), SEAFDEC (1995), FAO/NACA (1994) and APO (1995). Writing on the mangrove destruction of their respective countries are: Bashirullah (1989) and Mahmood et al. (1994), Bangladesh; Yu (1994), China; Ahmad (1990), Rao et al. (1994) and Kocherry (1995), India; Yahaya (1994), Malaysia; Primavera (1991; 1993), Saclauso (1989) and Juliano (1983), the Philippines; Jayasinghe (1994), Sri Lanka; Boromthanarat (1995), Bouret (1996) and Panvisavas et al. (1991), Thailand; and, Tuan (1996), Viet Nam.

6.1.2 Water pollution

Pond effluents (along with those of factories and humans) discharged into waterways have caused pollution that has resulted in the instant mass kill of aquatic animals and plants, or given rise also to diseases that have caused slow growth and mass kill. Aquaculture ponds themselves are victims of this environmental catastrophe. As Platon (1997) states: "no fish farm is an island. The action of one fish farm affects others as well as itself." Writing on this problem are: Yu (1994) for China; Platon (1997), Primavera (1991; 1993), Catalan et al. (1995), Saclauso (1989) and Juliano (1983) for the Philippines; Jayasinghe (1994) for Sri Lanka; and Chen (1993) for Taiwan (P.C.).

6.1.3 Saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers

Over-pumping of freshwater from the ground has resulted in the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater aquifers. This irreversible damage to the ecology has been written about by Saclauso (1989), Primavera (1991; 1993) and Yu (1994).

6.2 Social and biological problems

The three ecological damages have, in turn, caused various social and biological problems which are discussed below.

6.2.1 Dislocation of coastal communities

The destruction of mangrove forests and their conversion into ponds have deprived coastal families of their traditional abode and source of food and livelihood. Expounding on this social problem are: Datta (1995) and Mahmood et al. (1994) for Bangladesh; Yu (1994) for China; Muluk and Bailey (1996) and Hannig (1998) for Indonesia; Yahaya (1994) for Malaysia; Primavera (1991; 1993), Saclauso (1989) and Juliano (1983) for the Philippines; Jayasinghe (1994) for Sri Lanka; and Boromthanarat (1995), Flaherty and Karnjanakesor (1995) and Bouret (1995) for Thailand.

6.2.2 Diminished fish catch

The destruction of mangrove forests deprives fish of a nutrient-rich habitat and breeding ground. This naturally leads to diminished fish catch for subsistence fisherfolk. Primavera (1991) discusses this aspect of ecological damage that affects both terrestrial (man, livestock and fowl) and aquatic (fish, mollusc, and coral) life.

6.2.3 Diminished agricultural crops

Rice farms have also been excavated and converted into fish/shrimp farms. This has resulted in less production of rice and vegetables, which are both staples of Asian dining tables (Primavera, 1991; 1993 and Boromthanarat, 1995).

6.2.4 Inadequate freshwater supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial use

The over-pumping of ground freshwater for aquaculture use, and pollution of freshwater bodies by indiscriminate dumping of pond effluents have resulted in acute water shortages for domestic, agricultural and industrial use (Primavera, 1991; 1993 and Yu, 1994).

6.2.5 Vulnerability to flood, typhoon and erosion

The clearing of mangroves exposes coastal communities to the dangers of typhoon, flood and erosion. Over-pumping of ground freshwater also results in erosion (Primavera, 1991 and 1993; Bashirullah, 1989).

6.2.6 Shrimp/Fish Diseases

Water pollution has caused instant fish kill and spawned diseases that stunt or kill fish and shrimp. The excessive application of antibiotics and other chemicals for curative and prophylactic purposes has given birth to drug-resistant viruses and bacteria (Platon, 1997; Primavera, 1991 and 1993; and Phillips, 1995).

6.2.7 Destruction of marine tourism sites

Marine tourism, another profitable industry for many Asia-Pacific countries, thrives on pristine and well-preserved coastal resources (Habibullah-Khan, 1984). The clear waters are in danger of getting sullied, and the beautiful coral reefs and fish are being ravaged by pollution from pond effluents and by the destruction of mangroves. Marine tourism, however, is similar to aquaculture; it is both a perpetrator and a victim of pollution-causing and nature-hostile activities. Tourists leave behind non-biodegradable rubbish, collect rare seashells and aquarium fish, and engage in water sports such as scuba diving and jetski racing that can inflict damage on certain aquatic fauna or flora.

6.3 Proposed solutions

As the adverse effects of aquaculture activities became increasingly felt, government and research institutions have undertaken studies in an effort to abate the environmental and social problems. Experts from both the natural and social sciences have worked together and developed recommendations to avert environmental degradation and mitigate the stakeholders conflicts. Proposals common to Asia-Pacific countries are listed below.

(i) Development and implementation of management plans for the protection and conservation of coastal resources and equitable sharing of benefits from such resources among stakeholders. Papers on this theme, from a regional perspective include: SEAFDEC (1997), NACA (1995), Philipps (1995), Chou et al. (1991), Leekpai (1991), and Chua and White (1989). Papers from a country perspective include the following: Bangladesh - Mahmood et al. (1994); China - Chen (1989) and Yu (1994); India - Banerjee (1992), and Jhingran and Paul (1988); Malaysia - Yahaya (1994), Bennet and Reynolds (1993), and Chan (1991); Nepal - Nunkoo (1988); Philippines - Platon (1997), Catalan et al. (1995), Primavera (1991; 1993), McManus and Chua (1993), and Saclauso (1989); Singapore - Chia (1991) and Sien et al. (1988); Sri Lanka - Jayasinghe (1994) and Levy (1984); Taiwan (P.C.) - Chen (1993); and, Thailand - Pongpat (1994) and Chutiyaputta (1979).

(ii) Adoption of extensive or semi-intensive culture systems (Primavera, 1991; Jayasinghe, 1994).

(iii) Mangrove reforestation (Banerjee, 1992; Raddi, 1992; Chen, 1989).

(iv) Establishment of buffer zones (Jayasinghe, 1994; Banerjee, 1992).

(v) Deployment of artificial reefs (Wasilun et al., 1994; Tenedero, 1995; Chou, 1991; Lim and Lou, 1991; Ch’-ang and Thomas, 1991).

(vi) Use of sediment and water treatment systems (Jayasinghe, 1994; Hatch et al., 1996)

(vii) More research on the relationship between aquaculture and the environment (Philipps, 1995; Yu, 1994).

6.4 Government action

Guided by the experts’ recommendations, the governments of the Asia-Pacific countries have taken concrete steps toward abating environmental degradation, rehabilitation of damaged resources, and resolving social conflicts. Some of the steps taken are described in the following sections.

6.4.1 Policy review

Chiau (1992) writes about the moves of Taiwan (P.C.) to identify areas of conflict in its policies. Phillips (1992) discusses Kosrae in Micronesia and its review of development policies. Catalan et al. (1995) study the Philippine effort to make various government agencies work together in order to save the Laguna de Bay from ‘death’ due to pollution and overexploitation.

6.4.2 Enactment of laws protecting coastal and other natural resources

Aypa (1995) discusses a law in the Philippines prohibiting the conversion of mangroves into ponds and other uses, and Agbayani (1994) writes about the enactment of a municipal law declaring a reef area as a fish sanctuary. Phillips (1992) deals with Kosrae’s law creating the Development Review Commission, which is charged with reviewing development policies and promulgating rules and regulations necessary to implement the Kosrae Island Resource Management Programme. Malaysia’s Ch’-ang and Thomas (1991) and China’s Chen (1989) discuss the enactment of laws declaring certain coastal areas and resources in their respective countries as protected areas or national reservations. Maw-Cheng (1995) writes about Thailand’s policy prohibiting expansion of shrimp farming areas.

6.4.3 Development and implementation of coastal resource management plans

Governments have formed multidisciplinary and multisectoral groups to develop coastal resource management plans and created commissions or designated line agencies to implement such plans. They have also created task forces to look into specific problems besetting the aquaculture industry and to recommend short-term and long-term solutions to such problems.

Helfrich (1982) writes about the coastal resource management programmes for the Pacific States in general, Goldman (1994) writes specifically about Micronesia’s Yap State and Phillips (1992) focuses on Kosrae. Tabucanon (1991) and Limpsaichol and Bussarawit (1991) discuss Thailand; Jiuchang et al. (1994) and Chen (1989) cover China; and Platon (1997) and Catalan et al. (1995) write on the Philippines

6.4.4 Deployment of artificial reefs

One of the strategies of coastal resource rehabilitation is the deployment of artificial reefs to conserve and enhance fish habitats in lieu of the ravaged coral reefs. Writing about their respective countries’ experiences are Tenedero (1995) for the Philippines; Chou (1991), Lim and Lou (1991), and Hsu and Chou (1991) for Singapore; and Ch’-ang and Thomas (1991) for Malaysia.

Ch’-ang and Thomas note that there is indeed an increase in catch directly over artificial reefs, but they ask: Is this an indication of increase in fish stock, or is it an indication of increase in fish aggregation only? If the former, then artificial reefs do serve their intended purpose. If the latter, then artificial reefs will hasten the depletion of fish stocks. More studies, especially on resource valuation, are recommended on the deployment of artificial reefs and the real situation pertaining to the increase in fish around them.

6.5 Resource valuation and policy implications

Despite tremendous social and economic impacts of environmental deterioration, there have been very few economic valuation studies on the aquaculture resources (inland and coastal), and certainly not enough to influence policies on sustainable utilization of resources.

A 1995 report by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) compares the mangrove valuation techniques used by FAO, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Schatz (1991) and other researchers in different countries. The PIDS report notes that the valuation techniques use actual consumption and market prices, government statistical records, and economic rent estimation. PIDS observes that mangrove resource valuation studies in Fiji by Lal in 1990 use the income approach for volume and value estimation based on market (shadow) prices. Other alternative cost approaches are used for services such as nutrient-filtering services and existence of mangroves. The PIDS comparative report also includes the 1984 valuation studies by Hamilton and Snedaker in Fiji and other Pacific countries, which use market prices in assigning values for gross financial benefits.

The PIDS report also states that FAO uses the actual consumption and market price less transport cost in its valuation study of Thailand’s mangrove-dependent fishery (excluding oyster), the fishery inside estuaries, and shrimp and rice farming. In Malaysia, FAO takes into account actual consumption and market prices less cost of charcoal, poles and firewood. Leim and Haines (1997) estimate the value of Papua New Guinea’s mangrove forest resources using actual consumption and market prices less cost.

The Philippine Government uses the PIDS and Schatz (1991) studies as the basis for improving its leasing policies for government-owned fishponds. These ponds have been rented out for only

p 50/ha/yr. The PIDS report recommends increasing the rents, ranging from p 500 to p 20 000/ha/yr. The Government, however, has not been able to impose rental increases due to the strong lobbying of the politically-influential holders of fisheries landhold agreements.


7.1 Social equity

Among developing countries in the Asia and the Pacific region, there is a universal outcry against the social inequities spawned by aquaculture development. It appears that the benefits of new technologies mainly go to big corporations and wealthy landowners who have access to credit and capital, which is to the detriment of small farmers. As the social elite cuts down mangrove forests to make way for more ponds, they displace coastal villagers from their ancestral or traditional abodes, deprive them of their source of food and livelihood, and endanger their lives with pollution and exposure to flood and typhoon.

These inequities are well-documented. If the 1970-1980 literature extolled the boon of aquaculture and called for the adoption of new technologies, the 1990s literature focuses on the bane of aquaculture and calls for the reassessment of technologies with a view to correcting the social and environmental ills that they have engendered.

The following list summarizes representative literature of the 1990s on social issues.

Sri Lanka. Jayasinghe (1994) discusses the conflicts that have erupted between shrimp farmers and the communities that are engaged in traditional fishing, agriculture, animal husbandry and salt-making.

Malaysia. Yahaya (1994) describes the concentration of benefits from the shrimp industry in the hands of a few firms and wealthy landowners, and the marginalization of small-scale producers.

Tahiti. Rapaport (1994) discusses the social conflicts arising from pearl farming in Tuatomus. Among the atoll communities, there are deep divisions over the criteria to be applied to the allocation of lagoon concessions. Tahiti has been frustrated by the lack of concern over issues affecting the local communities.

Bangladesh. Hoque (1995) reports that the majority of the Bangladeshi population is protein-deficient in spite of the fact that 12% of the geographical area is composed of inland water bodies. More than 70% of the farmers are resource-poor and cannot afford the high-yield but high-input and high-risk intensive and semi-intensive culture systems.

Mahmood et al. (1994) report that indiscriminate expansion of brackishwater aquaculture has displaced other land-based activities. Bangladesh has a small coastal area - 25 000 km2 - that supports a huge population and a variety of livelihood activities.

Datta (1995) deplores the fact that although shrimp farm production has increased, most coastal households have encountered significant opportunity losses. Displaced from their traditional villages by the expansion of shrimp farms, families can no longer rear poultry and livestock, grow fruit trees, do kitchen gardening, culture fish in homestead ponds, and gather cow dung for fertilizer and firewood for fuel. Moreover, many families have been deprived of access to fresh water for drinking.

Philippines. Primavera (1991) decries the environmental degradation brought about by the conversion of mangrove forests into shrimp farms and the further marginalization of coastal fishermen, the displacement of labour and the monopoly of credit by large-scale businessmen. Samonte and Ortega (1992) also commiserate with small-scale fisherfolk who have to rely on informal lenders who charge usurious interest rates because banks and other formal institutions do not lend to the poor.

7.2 Women’s issues

Women have played important roles in the development of aquaculture. Women are involved in all the different stages of aquaculture: on the shores as fry gatherers, brokers and leaders/officers of fisherfolk associations; in hatcheries and ponds as aides, technicians, pathologists and owners-managers; in the markets as retailers, wholesalers and brokers; in the banks as analysts or evaluators of aquaculture project feasibility studies submitted for financing; in the academic and research institutions as teachers, researchers and extension workers; in government bureaucracies as policymakers and implementors, as well as researchers and extension workers; in the legislatures as proponents of laws promoting the interests of those engaged in aquaculture and protecting the environment and natural resources; in processing and packaging companies as fish cleaners, technicians, pathologists, nutritionists, chemical engineers, new-product developers and a host of other trailblazing positions; and in the media chronicling the ups-and-downs and boon and bane of the industry.

Despite this presence, there have been very few studies made on the role of women in aquaculture. Or, perhaps, it is this ubiquity itself that has made the subject uninteresting. The active, even trailblazing, involvement of women in all facets of food production has been encouraged, and, perhaps, now taken for granted, even in countries that have traditionally relegated women to household chores.

Bangladesh. Rahman et al. (1985) examine the impact of shrimp culture in the Satkhira region on the lives of the landless, small and marginal farmers and fishermen, with special reference to the role of women in the industry’s growth.

Cambodia. Nandeesha (1994) provides an account of the proceedings of a workshop held in November 1994 to help in the understanding of the status and contribution of women to aquaculture, capture fisheries, fish processing and marketing, and fisheries development, research and education.

India. Dehadrai (1992) examines the role of women in five of the eight types of rice-fish farming systems in rural India, where women comprise 26% of the labour force in agriculture and contribute 69% of the total household income. The results of the study indicate that the promotion and training of women in fish culture in ricefields is more culturally acceptable and economically beneficial than any introduction of labour-saving technologies in the rice agroecosystems.

Sharma (1991) also reports on how the transfer of aquaculture technology to rural women has improved their economic and social lives. The women have been taught small-scale integrated farming of fish, fruits and vegetables.

Gupta (1993) finds that the semi-intensive farming of shrimp and the culture of spiny lobster, crab, grouper, mullet and the like, provide employment opportunities for coastal women in India. In many fishing communities, it is women who harvest the seaweeds (Coppern and Nambiar, 1991).

Srinath (1987) evaluates how women who were trained in prawn farming techniques have used their knowledge, and discusses the socio-economic background, motivation pattern, and the constraints involved in the utilization of the knowledge gained.

Philippines. Siar (1995) reports on the active involvement of women in oyster and mussel farming in the central Philippines, particularly in harvesting and marketing.


Over 70% of the region’s 30 billion people live in the coastal areas. Their food and livelihood come mainly - for some, totally - from the bounty of the sea. But this bounty has been dissipated. Many coastal communities now live in grinding poverty, deprived of access to quality education and to opportunities of gainful employment. This unfortunate situation can be traced back to the abuse, misuse and overuse of coastal resources.

Industrial, agricultural, and human waste have polluted the waters; indiscriminate logging has caused erosion and siltation; massive clearing of mangrove forests for the construction of aquaculture ponds has destroyed coastal ecosystems; and unregulated fishing and the use of destructive fishing gears and methods have depleted fish and ravaged fish habitats.

The Asia-Pacific countries have realized the gravity of environmental destruction. Countries in the region have formulated programmes and strategies for the protection, conservation and management of coastal resources. But most of these measures have been ineffective because of lackadaisical enforcement and lack of cooperation and support from the communities.

Policy-makers and implementers recognized the need to review and revise the programmes and strategies. Drawing insights from the successes and failures in past and existing programmes, they have fashioned integrated, multidisciplinary, multisectoral and participatory approaches to coastal resource management. This ‘bottom-up’ approach or strategy has come to be known as community-based coastal resource management (CBCRM).

Since the 1980s, CBCRM has been gaining recognition in Asia-Pacific countries as a tool for efficient resource utilization and management, protection and conservation of the environment, empowering rural folk and ameliorating their economic and social condition.

The proceedings of the 1996 Regional Workshop on Coastal Fisheries Management based on Southeast Asian Experiences (SEAFDEC, 1997) present approaches, perspectives, and strategies of the participating countries. The papers stress the need for human resource development, community organizing and capacity-building, appropriate and environment-friendly fisheries and aquaculture technologies, alternative livelihoods, property rights, government policy support, institutional arrangements, gender equity, and environmental rehabilitation and conservation strategies. The research component is multidisciplinary and includes biology, economics, sociology, anthropology, business management, engineering, and political sciences.

One of the papers presented during the workshop (Tokrishna, 1997) asserts that CBCRM is a cost-effective management scheme because resource rent is maximized. The economics of CBCRM is actually the distribution of control power due to market failure. The optimum is attained where marginal benefit equals marginal cost.

Sustaining CBCRM will require institutional arrangements or sets of rules and rights for the fishers and other stakeholders in the use and management of coastal resources. These arrangements will have to be legitimized in order to ensure their implementation.

Philippines. The Philippines is a world leader in adopting CBCRM as a strategy for rural development. It has 43 programmes and projects with over 105 units and/or sites nationwide. Government agencies, NGOs, and academic and research institutions create and implement CBCRM projects, usually as a collaborative undertaking of two or more agencies. Funding comes from the Philippine Government, private local and international foundations and foreign governments (grants or soft loans). The Local Government Code of the Philippines provides the legal framework for CBCRM programmes.

Pomeroy and Carlos (1997) review and evaluate the CBCRM projects in the Philippines from 1984 to 1994. The authors find that the types of intervention employed are: technology transfer for fish production; the establishment of alternative livelihoods and credit support; deployment of artificial reefs; mangrove reforestation; protection and management of marine sanctuaries; resource assessment and monitoring; resource management planning; and legislation and policy formulation.

In another paper, Pomeroy et al. (1996) discuss the impact evaluation of CBCRM projects in the Philippines. Impact indicators suggested in the study include: local income, access to resources, control over resources, ability to participate in community affairs, community conflict, community compliance with management, and the amount of traditionally-harvested resources from the water.

Agbayani (1994) discusses the intervention strategies of a CBCRM project of the SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department on Malalison Island, in the central Philippines. Intervention strategies include community organizing and capability-building, introduction of technology for seaweed farming, deployment of artificial reefs, and training on sea-ranching techniques. Through the initiative of the fisherfolk organization, a barangay (village) resolution declaring one of the reef areas as a fish sanctuary was enacted into a municipal law. This is an example of a genuine community-based approach to resource management using the Local Government Code as a legal basis.

Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs), as a CBCRM strategy in the Philippines, are discussed in the papers of Ferrer (1991) and Siar et al. (1992). Ferrer says that TURFs aim to create the appropriate environment for self-management through the establishment of private or community ownership of common property resources. Siar recommends the granting of TURFs to organized fisherfolk communities as a management tool for small-scale fisheries.

Indonesia. Widana (1997) relates that the responsibility for coastal resource management is shared by the central and provincial governments. The provincial government regulates fishing boats with less than 30 gross t and 90 hp; beyond these, the national Government assumes control.


The transfer of technology from research and development institutions to fish farmers has been the concern of all countries in the Asia and the Pacific region. Technology transfer is effected through training, extension, and project demonstration and information dissemination through print and broadcast media.

At the forefront of efforts to extend the frontiers of knowledge in aquaculture and to develop, innovate and transfer technologies are the international research and development organizations such as SEAFDEC, FAO-NACA and ICLARM. Most countries in the Asia and the Pacific region have government agencies, academic and research institutions, NGOs and private corporations that are also actively pursuing research and extension in aquaculture. These international and national institutions work with or complement one another in the drive to disseminate information and transfer technologies to the remotest locations of the region.

The outreach drives of these institutions have been successful as evidenced by the impressive growth in production in each country and the number of aquaculture operations that have been opened during the past two decades. Still, there are more people to be trained, and those who have been previously trained need skills upgrading and knowledge updating.

Of the over 700 publications in the Asia and the Pacific Bibliography, there are very few that touch on technology transfer and training needs, and only one (Villegas and Lacierda, 1997) is devoted to assessing the training needs and available labour in aquaculture in the region.

The 1997 paper of Villegas and Lacierda discusses the results of the survey conducted by SEAFDEC-AQ/D in 1994-1996 among Asia-Pacific countries. The areas where training are most needed are ranked as follows: (i) brackishwater aquaculture; (ii) freshwater aquaculture; (iii) aquaculture management; (iv) fish health management; (v) aquaculture research methodology; (vi) culture of natural food organisms; (vii) fish nutrition; (viii) marine fish hatchery; (ix) shrimp hatchery operations; (x) aquaculture extension methodology; (xi) integrated fish farming; (xii) fry collection, handling and storage; (xiii) sanitation and culture of tropical bivalves; (xiv) artemia culture; (xv) management of aquatic resources and the environment; (xvi) intensive farming systems; (xvii) aquaculture economics; and (xviii) fish genetics. There are also recommendations for aquaculture researchers in different disciplines (biological sciences, economics, sociology, engineering, and new fields in biotechnology) to be continuously trained in methodology. The survey respondents also pointed out the need for information specialists who can translate research results into useful information packages for fish farmers.

Rabanal (1995) recommends the inclusion in extension courses of subjects in aquaculture production, marketing and socio-economic benefits.

The few other papers that mention technology transfer either cite the role of aquaculture training in helping to improve the lives of the impoverished fisherfolk (Leelapatra and Sollows, 1992; Setboonsargn, 1994; Sharma et al., 1991; Singh, 1987; 1990; 1994), or decry the lack of such efforts (Habib et al., 1994; Sukumaran, 1992).


The rapid growth of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific during the past two decades can be traced primarily to the tremendous support of the governments for fisheries education, research, technology development and transfer, trade, and infrastructure.

The countries in the region have enacted laws that are supportive of the industry, reviewed existing ones and revised those that were deemed to hinder aquaculture development. Some countries have borrowed millions of dollars from the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) to send scholars to universities abroad for advanced degrees or short-term and long-term non-degree programmes on the various areas of fisheries and aquaculture. Countries have established fisheries task forces and line agencies, training centres, schools, and research institutions. Although many of the countries have limited financial resources, they have allocated huge amounts for research and technology development and transfer. They have lifted tariffs for the importation of machines and farm inputs, given tax incentives to fish farmers, and exempted fish farms from land reform. They have built fishing ports and processing plants, and roads and bridges to fish farms. The countries that have political and diplomatic conflicts have risen above those conflicts and encouraged expert exchange and technical and trade cooperation. They have cooperated to support the establishment of international organizations devoted to fisheries research and development and the training of fishery labour. Countries have cooperated in sponsoring international conferences and study tours, allowing their citizens to travel across politically-forbidden territories. This is all because the countries recognize the potential of aquaculture to feed and provide employment for their peoples and earn foreign exchange.

Banks also have been supportive of aquaculture development. The World Bank/IMF has extended soft loans and grants for fisheries education and research and infrastructure development. The ADB has made available more funds for aquaculture and inland fisheries, and its lending strategies aim at boosting supplies for domestic use and export marketing, research and training (Azam, 1982).

The social conflicts and environmental degradation that aquaculture engendered, however, have compelled the countries in the region to review their policies and institute reforms. The following papers from a variety of countries demonstrate government policy support and reform relative to aquaculture development.

Bangladesh. In recent decades, shrimp has been one of the most important export products of Bangladesh. Datta (1995) reports that the Government of Bangladesh has declared shrimp cultivation a priority industry and designed specific support programmes to boost production. Dewan (1992) urges the Government to resolve social issues on land ownership and water-use rights and to extend technical assistance, production input and credit support to fish farmers.

China. The political conflict between China and Taiwan (P.C.) does not seem to affect cooperation between the two countries on matters relating to aquaculture development. Sun (1995) reveals trips made by Taiwanese government officials, fishery experts and investors to mainland China to explore areas of cooperation for aquaculture technology transfer and investments.

Jiang (1993) and Jiuchang et al. (1994) report on how the Chinese Government has taken extra steps to protect the environment, even as it pushes urbanization and industrialization programmes. For the development of a new economic zone in the Meizhou Bay area, the government plan stipulates that the orchards be protected from air pollution and the shrimp and oyster farms from oil pollution. To protect the Meizhou Bay from pollution, for example, nutrient-loading eco-dynamic models were developed to simulate ecological changes associated with nutrient-laden discharges. Jiuchang et al. (1994) state that the results of the ecological research will play a strategic role in reconciling conflicts between economic development and environmental degradation.

India. Verghese (1985) states that declining marine fishery production prompted the Government to turn to aquaculture. While India has potential for aquaculture, the industry presently suffers from inadequate infrastructure, administrative bottlenecks, absence of effective technology transfer and large capital outlays, and irregular seed supplies.

Rao and Rao (1989) note the establishment of research institutions and training of personnel, in order to speed up aquaculture development.

Sukumaran (1992) describes the reforms of economic policies to accommodate foreign investments and joint ventures. Among the incentives given are: foreign investors being able to hold majority shares and repatriate profits; and 100% export-oriented operations enjoying duty-free import of capital goods. Another incentive is the low wages being paid to both skilled and unskilled workers.

Memon (1992) reports on the moves of the government of Punjab to encourage fish farming by the private sector. All possible support and incentives are being extended to reduce costs. These include soil tests, water analysis, feasibility reports, disease diagnosis, provision of canal water, supply of bulldozers at subsidized rates, land lease and loans on easy terms.

Liberalized investment policy and import procedures are described as contributing to the boom of shrimp culture in the coast of Andra Pradesh (Angell, 1994).

But even as the Indian Government is extending tremendous support to the aquaculture industry, it has commissioned a study on the effects of aquaculture and other human activities on the marine environment (Ahmad, 1990).

Indonesia. Supardan (1992) observes that despite social and environmental problems, the Indonesian Government still makes available to investors its vast natural resources of mangroves, coastal areas and open water. This is probably because the share of the fishery sector in the national economy is only 1.96%.

Korea. Under Korea’s development-oriented national policy, environmental protection and conservation issues rank low in the officialdom’s priority. But serious conflicts among users of coastal resources, increasing public recognition of the importance of coastal resources and growing concern about environmental degradation led the Korean Government to formulate a comprehensive management programme for its coastal zone (Lee et al., 1993.).

Malaysia. Aquaculture has been certified as one of the major thrusts of development in Malaysia’s New Agricultural Policy for 1991-2010. Depleting natural stocks from capture fisheries, strong export markets and proven commercial viability has made shrimp culture attractive to private investors as well as to government development agencies (Yahaya, 1994).

Pacific States. Fitzgerald (1992) reports on the formation of the PAA to promote appropriate aquaculture development in the Pacific. Funded by the US Department of the Interior, PAA supports aquaculture projects, applied research and training programmes, and economic and marketing studies.

Since the early 1980s, the island states have been more active in aquaculture. Yap State has embarked on a $US 500 000 giant clam reseeding programme (Lindsay, 1995); Micronesia supports giant clam culture in its outer islands for subsistence and additional income (Foster and Poggie, 1992); Kosrae has established the development review commissions that are charged with developing and integrating a resource management plan and promulgating rules and regulations necessary to implement the plan (Phillips, 1992).

Pakistan. To encourage the private sector to engage in fish farming, Pakistan is giving free services for soil tests, water analysis, feasibility studies and disease prognosis, and extending land leases, and loans. The country has also set up advisory centres at the district level (Memon, 1992).

Philippines. The Philippines is host to two international aquaculture R&D institutions (SEAFDEC-AQ/D and ICLARM) and to SEARCA, an international institution involved in human resource development by offering scholarship grants to Asian students who pursue advanced courses in agriculture and fisheries in accredited universities in the region. In 1979, the Government established the University of the Philippines in the Visayas as the premier institution in the field of fisheries education, research and extension, not only in the country but also in the Asia and the Pacific region. Government-funded fishery schools have been established nationwide to produce technicians for the industry. A People’s School System has also been established to train villagers in backyard integrated farming.

The Government encourages the formation of cooperatives to support the production, marketing and financial needs of small-scale fishers and farmers and to give them economic bargaining power (Agbayani and Lim, 1996).

Investment policies encourage global competitiveness. Specifically, the Government provides fiscal incentives (e.g., tax exemption, tax credits and rebates), as well as non-fiscal incentives (e.g., employment of foreign nationals, unrestricted use of consigned equipment and simplification of customs procedures) (Esquires, 1992).

The Local Government Code of 1991 has empowered local government units to manage, conserve, develop and protect their respective fishery and aquaculture resources. When the shrimp industry skidded, the Department of Agriculture established Oplan Sagip Sugpo (‘Operation Save the Shrimp’) in 1996 to look into the problems besetting the shrimp industry and to recommend short-term and long-term solutions.

Yet, even as the Government aggressively pursues its aquaculture goals, alarm bells are being rung by environmentalists and aquaculturists themselves (Primavera, 1991; 1993; 1995; Saclauso, 1989; Juliano, 1983) about environmental degradation. Padilla and de los Angeles (1992) are concerned that the Philippine development policies have accelerated the rate of degradation of coastal resources. There is strong support for the reorientation of economic policies and programmes to attain sustainable development of coastal resources. The Government has taken heed and policy reforms are taking place.

One example is the enactment of a law prohibiting the conversion of mangroves and swamps into ponds and other uses (Aypa, 1995).

Singapore. Singapore’s fish production cannot meet the demands of the nation’s population, due to limited inshore fisheries resources, low technology adopted by local fishermen, and uncertain access to national territorial waters, which hampers attempts to engage in offshore and deep-sea fishing. In view of this, the Government of Singapore has formulated policies to facilitate the development of fisheries with strong potential (Chan, 1979).

Sri Lanka. Although the Government of Sri Lanka declared aquaculture as a purely private sector undertaking, it has been offering attractive incentives to private investors including lease of state-owned land, tax holidays, duty-free import of equipment, and feed and other raw materials needed for shrimp production. It is of interest to note, however, that the government withdrew its support from inland fisheries development in 1990 due to religious beliefs (Pathirana, 1992).

In the report of De Silva and Jayasinghe (1993), the government’s policy to promote small-scale business is stated as having encouraged small-scale investors to go into shrimp farming.

Taiwan (P.C.). During the economic transformation of Taiwan (P.C.) in the early 1980s, aquaculture played a very important role in stabilizing the rural economy, particularly the coastal communities. Taiwan (P.C.) became a top producer of aquaculture products. In the 1980s, the aquaculture industry suffered a setback. The shrimp sector collapsed due to the onslaught of diseases. Liao et al. (1995) blame the Government’s inadequate and inconsistent planning, management, and implementation or enforcement of aquaculture policies for the troubles besetting the industry.

Wang (1993) has been espousing cooperation between China and Taiwan (P.C.) in fisheries development and trade, particularly deep-sea fishing, marine aquaculture, aquatic product processing, and fisheries science and technology education. Later, Sun (1995) reports on visits to mainland China by Taiwanese government officials, fisheries experts and investors to explore potential areas of cooperation. China is the first choice of Taiwanese investors for fish culture ventures.

Thailand. As early as 1975, there have been attempts to identify environmental criteria and to formulate policy guidelines for the regulation of coastal zone development. A central pollution control centre was proposed to coordinate and direct efforts of public and private sectors in handling pollution cases (Chutiyaputta, 1979).

In order to sustain the genetic improvement of culturable fish species in Thailand, the National Aquaculture Genetics Research Institute was established in 1989 primarily to: (i) develop domesticated strains of aquatic animals that are well adapted; (ii) distribute these superior strains to fish farmers; (iii) advise selective breeding practices and broodstock management at farm level; and (iv) include research work on fish genetics in future fisheries development plans (Tavarutmaneegal, et al., 1997).

As part of its economic development programme, Thailand has also formulated a progressive fishery policy under the Seventh National Five-Year Plan (1992-1996). This policy calls for the extensive propagation of brackishwater species, the development of intensive culture techniques in coastal areas, the use of remote sensing and ground surveys in coastal zone development, and the development of effective techniques for the sustainable utilization and conservation of coastal living resources.

The international cooperation for aquaculture development since the 1960s has resulted in several institutions being established to address the research and development needs of the region. Among these are: NACA and the Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP) which are FAO-funded and coordinated; ICLARM which was established and initially funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the State of Hawaii; and SEAFDEC, an autonomous intergovernmental body established as a treaty organization in 1967. The latest addition is the US-funded PAA which coordinates the aquaculture development programmes of the Pacific island states.

These regional and international institutions undertake research and develop technologies appropriate for the region; develop human resources; and collect, disseminate and exchange information on aquaculture. They receive support from their host countries, the UN, international development-funding agencies of developed countries, and private international foundations. Their training courses are attended by peoples from different countries in the region, as well as South America, the Middle East and Africa. They participate in expert exchanges and host scientists and doctoral students from developed countries who conduct studies on tropical species and culture environments.

Some institutions, like SEAFDEC, have their own research facilities and manage training and development programmes. Others, like ICLARM and NACA, do not have their own research facilities but they cooperate with those that have.


11.1 Thrusts and priorities

Research thrusts normally reflect the priorities of governments. During the past three decades, and, it is safely assumed, for more decades to come, the priorities of Asia-Pacific countries have been, and will be, food production, generating employment, providing basic social services to the ever-growing population, and earning foreign exchange to lubricate the machines of economic development. Given the reality of diminishing catch from the seas, research has focused on developing technologies that will increase farm production and on identifying cultivatible and high-yield species. Species with high-value export potential, like shrimp, command the most attention in research and extension efforts.

Yet, environmental degradation and changing social values with regard to the empowerment of people, the role of women and children, and equitable distribution of benefits from, and access to, natural resources have caused the refocusing of research to include, even prioritze, assessing impacts of aquaculture development projects on the quality of life of targeted communities. Hence, the growing interest in and recognition of the important role of socio-economic research in achieving more sustainable development.

Whereas in the past, natural scientists have worked in developing production technologies without regard to socio-economic realities, the trend is now towards multidisciplinary approach to research and development.

This research direction has also been dictated by donors of research funds (Montalvo and Pomeroy, 1993). It must be pointed out, however, that for the most part, research subjects are decided upon in consultation with the host country.

In the 1980s, some social scientists highlighted directions that research must take. For example, from a regional perspective, Furtado (1980) discusses the research and information requirements of integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems. The areas recommended for further studies include: rice-fish farming - pesticide use and land/water conflict; animal-fish farming - species combination and production systems, with particular attention given to marketing and to public and animal health. The complexity of the socio-economic aspects of integrated farming calls for increased dissemination of information, detailed socio-economic analysis, evaluation of different technologies and the impact of technology transfer, and studies of production economics, marketing systems, and government policies and programmes.

Hulse et al. (1982) encourage multidisciplinary analysis of aquaculture systems to generate a better understanding of the ways in which economic analysis can contribute to the development and application of new technologies, so that potential benefits to fish farmers and consumers can be realized and maximized. Three subject areas are recommended: (i) microeconomic analysis of experimental aquaculture production; (ii) micro-economic analysis of the existing aquaculture production; and, (iii) social welfare economic considerations.

The literature of the 1990s reflects the shift in concerns previously described. For example, Tisdell (1993) provides a conceptual and theoretical framework for socio-economic research in aquaculture. The common contention is that there is an urgent need for a holistic approach to aquaculture development, for even if biological, technological and environmental conditions are favourable, they may fail if socio-economic conditions are found to be unreceptive to the technical intervention. Social considerations include, among others, demographics, land ownership patterns, the legal and political systems, consumer tastes and preferences, entrepreneurship, indigenous knowledge, social attitudes, religion, customs and tradition. Economic factors identified as important are: the relative availability and costs of land, water, labour, and capital; the adequacy of marketing and processing facilities; environmental conditions; property rights; profitability of operations; and government policies and regulations.

Pomeroy (1994) reiterates Furtado’s (1980) call for socio-economic research on integrated farming, and points out the priority areas of the 1990s: the socio-economic structure of integrated fish farming; family income analysis; evaluation of joint cost and inputs substitution; economic efficiency studies; land tenure use rights; credit and marketing; and development policy analysis.

From a country perspective, Rao and Rao (1989) note the growth in research facilities and the increase in research personnel in India. Still, these must not have been sufficient because Jayagopal and Sathiadhas (1993) are deploring the dearth of information regarding the economics of various prawn culture practices in India. Cook (1988) reviews the statistical gathering activities of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Solomon Islands and recommends the improvement of data collection, processing and publication systems.

11.2 Gaps and constraints

Montalvo and Pomeroy (1993) discuss three areas of consideration in socio-economic research in Asia and the Pacific: methodology, data, and infrastructure.

Methodology. Some countries are not inclined to place the fishery sector high in their development agenda. There is scant political, legislative and institutional support. They allocate little budget for the training of research personnel and for the strategic collection of data necessary for planning and policy development. The selection of suitable methodologies to suit the budgets, capabilities and needs of researchers are a critical importance. Much of the research in the region has been conducted by researchers from developing countries, employing methodologies that are too complex or requiring data that are not available, or are not suitable for use due to the different socio-cultural context of the developing countries. There are local researchers who have been working with the foreign scientists but they were not involved in the planning and design of the methodologies used. During the past 10 years, however, quite a number of local researchers who pursued advanced studies in developed countries have returned to their native countries; they are now actively doing research and involved in planning the research agenda and methodologies of their respective countries.

The other methodological concerns, according to Montalvo and Pomeroy, are the need to: translate applied research methods into policy-relevant management and development research methods; strengthen and integrate other social science disciplines, such as sociology, anthropology and political science, in order to be able to adequately tackle the relatively wide range of social science issues; integrate social science and biological methods, such as bio-socio-economic modelling, in order to be able to address the complex nature of fisheries management and development issues; publish grey literature from the region and international literature, in order to share and open dialogue in methodological issues; and forge regional and in-country cooperation in methodological development to test, refine, verify and share knowledge.

Data. A perennial and persistent problem in the region is the inadequacy, even the lack, of updated, relevant and reliable data to support policy formulation and decision-making, and to guide future research directions. Several factors have given rise to this problem: (i) researchers are working totally independent of each other, using completely different sampling designs and survey instruments, making comparison of results difficult; (ii) some governments do not have long-term development thrusts and direction, and thus fail to maintain a fishery database; (iii) the lack of funding support hampers strategic collection and processing of data; (iv) the rather loose coordination of the relatively few social scientists in the region leads to fragmentation and subsequent lack of unified direction in both local and regional research; and (v) although most research institutions are already computerized, they have not set up a system of sharing data within and outside of the region.

Infrastructure. A physical infrastructure and institutional support system are needed to integrate the efforts of natural and social scientists in addressing the complex issues of fishery development. Such an infrastructure can bring together experts from various disciplines to work as a collegial body to design research agendas and share expertise. This infrastructure can also encourage the sharing of data and information among members.

Some countries already have such an infrastructure while others do not. On a regional level, the Asian Fisheries Social Science Research Network (AFSSRN), established in 1983 and based at ICLARM, has been successful in regularly bringing together the region’s social scientists and in designing research agenda that are country- and region-specific. PAA designs and coordinates the aquaculture programmes of the Pacific States.

11.3 Future research needs and priorities

Future research needs and priorities are inferred from the current gaps and constraints and culled from workshop proceedings. As in the preceding discussions, this part owes much to Montalvo and Pomeroy (1993), who refer to both aquaculture and capture fisheries.

11.3.1 Needs

Government and institutional support. Funding, legislative and administrative support is needed from the governments of the Asia-Pacific countries. In order for this to be forthcoming, the governments must be convinced of the magnitude of the contributions of fisheries social science research to bring about equitable, sustainable and environment-friendly fisheries development. The experts and their associations play a critical role in motivating their governments to extend such support.

Long-term R&D thrusts and directions. The presence of long-term R&D thrusts and directions would ensure the continuity of research and the undertaking of complementary and supplementary projects. This would also compel governments and institutions to recruit and develop adequate human resources and to establish and maintain a database that may be accessed readily for policy and decision-making.

Data networking. There is need for in-country and regional linking of information systems. This would facilitate data sharing, updating and verification and would eliminate duplication of, or needless efforts in, data collection.

Experts networking. Some countries already have dynamic associations of experts (e.g., the Philippines’ Aquaculture Society), and there are already regional networks (e.g., AFSSRN). What these networks need are government and institutional funding support, so that they can effectively and efficiently achieve their objectives of integrating and unifying research efforts and directions.

Fishery social science curriculum. Montalvo and Pomeroy (1993) also suggest the institution of fishery social science in the curriculum of those fishery academic institutions where this has not yet been done. This initiative would facilitate the training of more fishery social scientists. As it is, there are relatively few in the Pacific countries.

11.3.2 Research priorities

Every three years the SEAFDEC-AQ/D conducts a regional workshop to determine research direction and priority areas. Socio-economic issues have been given research priority, especially those pertaining to the social acceptability of aquaculture technologies, The institutional analysis of the management of coastal resources, and the socio-economic impact assessment of community-based coastal resource management. The AFSSRN also holds periodic reviews, assessments and programme planning. In its 1992 workshop, participants from 14 countries drew up the following priority areas for social science research for the Asia and the Pacific region: (i) integrated coastal fisheries management and community-based management; (ii) integrated agriculture-aquaculture farming systems; (iii) analysis of fisheries policies, aquaculture and coastal zone management and development; and (iv) socio-economic tools and methods for analyzing capture fisheries, aquaculture and coastal management.

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