In this issue:

  • 33rd NACA Governing Council held in New Delhi, India.
  • Dr Eduardo Leaño elected as next Director General of NACA.
  • Reported aquatic animal diseases in the Asia-Pacific region during the third quarter of 2023.
  • We are hiring: Professional Associate, aquaculture transformation.

This report summarises the proceedings of the 22nd meeting of the Regional Advisory Group on Aquatic Animal Health, held 6-7 November 2023. The role of the group is to review trends in disease and emerging threats in the region, identify developments in global disease issues and standards, to evaluate the Quarterly Aquatic Animal Disease Reporting Program and to provide guidance on regional strategies to improve aquatic animal health management. The meeting discussed Progress on NACA’s Asia Regional Aquatic Animal Health Programme; Farm-level aquaculture biosecurity: From a tilapia parasites perspectives; Farm level aquaculture biosecurity: Update on Operation Black Tiger Shrimp Revival; Update on WOAH Asia-Pacific Network on Aquatic Animal Health; Update on regional disease reporting and disease list.

We are seeking a highly qualified and motivated individual to join our team as a Professional Associate. The successful candidate will oversee the implementation of a project focused on aquaculture transformation through innovative aquaculture and nature-based solutions, and the development of National Innovation and Investment Plan for sustainable aquaculture. This is a full-time contract position for immediate appointment, with a duration of up to 18 months, involving both local and international travel. The duty station is Bangkok, Thailand. Applications close 15 April.

The 33rd NACA Governing Council, currently in session in New Delhi, India, today elected Dr Eduardo Leaño as the incoming Director General of NACA. He will serve a five-year term beginning in May 2024 and succeeds Dr Huang Jie, who will complete his own five year term in April. Dr Leaño is a national of The Philippines and currently serves as the Senior Programme Officer for NACA’s Health and Biosecurity Programme, and Food Security, Safety and Certification Programme. He holds a PhD in Applied Biology from the City University of Hong Kong, a MSc in Fisheries from the University of the Philippines Visayas and a BSc in Inland Fisheries from Central Luzon State University.

In this issue:

  • Neolissochilus hexagonolepis (chocolate mahseer): A flagship species for diversification of hill aquaculture in Northeast India
  • Aquarium fish culture in open village ponds in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal
  • Women nurtured transformative aquaculture in rural Bengal
  • Breeding and seed production technology of striped spiny eel Macrognathus pancalus to benefit fish farmers
  • Grow-out culture of the loach Lepidocephalichthys thermalis in modified tanks
  • NACA Newsletter

This article investigates the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of Neolissochilus hexagonolepis, commonly known as chocolate mahseer and its potential for hill aquaculture in Northeast India. The taxonomy, distribution, and distinct features are described. Chocolate mahseer populations are in decline due to habitat degradation, overfishing and environmental changes, and it is designated as "near threatened" by the IUCN. Breeding patterns, growth parameters, and culture techniques are explored in depth as a candidate species for aquaculture development. Conservation initiatives and the need to balance economic utilisation with species conservation in chocolate mahseer farming are discussed.

The article highlights the successful commercial-scale breeding, propagation, rearing, and sale of aquarium fish species in the Howrah and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal, India. It focuses on the innovative practices of two experienced aquarium fish farmers, Sri Bikash Sau and Sri Swapan Parua, who have introduced a novel approach to aquarium fish culture in open earthen and common village ponds. The success stories of Sri Bikash Sau and Sri Swapan Parua serve as inspirations for small and medium-scale farmers and aqua-entrepreneurs. Their innovative approach to open pond production for aquarium fishes demonstrates the increasing potential and expansion of the aquarium fish business in the region.

Aquaculture has traditionally been a male-dominated activity. Changes in rural dynamics, with men migrating to cities for better opportunities, have led women to take up aquaculture in Bengal. Collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendras and local R&D institutions have provided them with training in ecological aquaculture, focusing on resource utilisation. Women engage in agro-ecological farming, utilising local inputs and traditional knowledge. The cooperative approach has enabled women to systematise production processes at a low cost, overcoming challenges and reviving local production. By forming self-help groups women have access to unconventional water resources and utilise mobile communication tools to strengthen the fish production system. The article discusses the broader role of women in diverse domains of aquaculture, including fish culture, hatchery management, nutrition, and fish processing technology, showcasing their resilience, capability, and contributions to the success of aquaculture.

The striped spiny eel, Macrognathus pancalus, is economically significant but faces population decline due to anthropogenic factors. This study presents a comprehensive approach to breeding and seed production techniques for M. pancalus, conducted at the Regional Research Centre, ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Rahara, India. The study describes broodstock management simulation of natural habitat to stimulate natural breeding. Techniques for hatching and larval rearing, management of early spawn, and precautions to prevent cannibalism are presented. Survival of 88% after one month was achieved. The breeding and seed production techniques provided are suitable for farmers to adapt, and will contribute to the conservation and utilisation of M. pancalus in sustainable aquaculture practices. The findings also highlight the economic potential of this species to provide a nutritious option for consumers at affordable prices.

This study explores the cultivation of the Indian spiny loach, Lepidocephalichthys thermalis, in indigenously designed poly-lined iron frame tanks as a sustainable solution. The article details the fabrication methods for these tanks, highlighting the use of rust-resistant iron and low-density polyethylene sheets.The study proposes a supplementary feed mixture and provides insights into water quality management to ensure optimal conditions. The study demonstrates the potential for achieving a net production level of 1 kg from 400 liters, offering economic viability for farmers. The modified tank-based rearing system is shown to be beneficial in hilly regions with limited land and water resources.