Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission

Transition from low-value fish to compound feeds in marine cage farming in Asia

Category Marine Capture Fisheries

Transition from low-value fish to compound feeds in marine cage farming in Asia. Hasan, M.R. (2012) FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 573. Rome, FAO. 2012. 198 pp.

This technical paper presents the findings of the FAO Regional Technical Cooperation Project TCP/RAS/3203 (D) 'Reducing the dependence on the utilization of trash fish/low-value fish as feed for aquaculture of marine finfish in the Asian Region,' which was implemented between 1 August 2008 and 31 July 2011 in China, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam. It comprises the results of the project components, namely, farmers' participatory on-farm trials and a concurrent survey of farmers' perceptions concerning the use of two feed types and microcredit, environmental impact assessments of the use of both feed types, and a survey and analysis of the potential impacts of a change to pellet feeds on the livelihood prospects of fishers and suppliers of trash fish/low-value fish. An assessment of changes in the perceptions of farmers before and after the farm trials was undertaken, and a final regional stakeholders' workshop was conducted after the completion of all the project components. Incorporated in the relevant parts of the report are the findings of a follow-up mission conducted 16 months after the end of the project. This mission was designed to confirm the findings, and assess further activities in line with the recommendations made at the final regional stakeholders' workshop.

There were indications of the clear benefits to farmers as well as to the environment of adopting pellet feeds. Some indicators were not statistically significant, but present opportunities for addressing the constraints to the farmers' adoption of pellet feeds. A dominant finding was that the technical and economic performance from pellet feeds can be considerably enhanced by improving feed management, which was not a common attribute among the trial farmers. Furthermore, overall farm performance, whichever feed type was used, could be improved by introducing better management practices. The environmental impact assessments on the use of the two feed types suggested that good feed management and overall farming practices, and improving the quality of trash fish/low-value fish or pellets reduce the impacts of feed on the water beneath and around the culture sites. In addition, a good culture site where the carrying capacity is not stressed by aquaculture and non-aquaculture activities will considerably reduce the mortality risks from biotic and abiotic hazards. The technical and economic findings of the study were noted by the farmers, and contributed to the changes in their attitudes towards the pellet feeds from negative or neutral to positive. The recommendations of the project included providing the opportunities and enabling the farmers to translate their positive attitude into actual and sustained adoption of pellet feeds. Interventions that would promote the adoption of pellet feeds, among others, would include reasonable credit facility, species and growth-stage-specific feed formulations, farmers being associated to take advantage of economy of scale, and advice on better management practices. A standardized guide for a better management practice in cage mariculture was unanimously requested by the farmers.

The impact on the livelihood of fishers and fish suppliers from losing the cage culture industry as a direct market for their trash fish/low-value fish was found to be minimal; they have robust coping mechanisms, which can be strengthened by policy and technical assistance from government.