Second High-Level Meeting on Aquaculture Transformation in Asia and the Pacific Region

Aquaculture development in the region faces many challenges, including resource scarcity and resource use conflicts, environmental pressure, climate change, demographic changes in farming communities and shifting trends driven by globalisation.

Innovations and investment are required to transform aquaculture into more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable aquatic food systems. This approach is aligned with the FAO’s Blue Transformation Roadmap, which provides a vision for the sustainable intensification and expansion of aquaculture to contribute to future global food supply needs.

In November 2022 FAO and NACA convened the First High Level Meeting on Aquaculture Transformation in Asian and the Pacific Region (HLM). The meeting provided a forum for government policy makers, business leaders, development banks and investors to identify strategies and mechanisms to stimulate innovation and investment for aquaculture transformation by 2030. As a background to discussions FAO and NACA developed a white paper entitled Aquaculture transformation: Innovations and investment for sustainable intensification and expansion of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific region.

A second High Level Meeting on Aquaculture Transformation: A Call for Collective Action was held in Bangkok from 8-9 November 2023 to further facilitate regional collaboration towards the Blue Transformation vision. The purpose of the meeting was to review progress made after the First HLM and discuss specific actions and mechanisms needed to enhance regional cooperation and progress transformation at scale by 2030.

Opening remarks were given by Dr Xinhua Yuan, Deputy Director Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, FAO; Dr Jie Huang, Director General, NACA; and Dr Taworn Thunjai, Deputy Director General, Department of Fisheries (DoF), Thailand. A keynote presentation on aquaculture transformation through innovation and investment in Thailand was given by Dr Montakan Tamtin, Director of the Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Center, Coastal Aquaculture and Development Division, DoF Thailand. Dr Tipparat Pongthanapanish, FAO RAP, gave a presentation on the white paper and progress made after the First High Level Meeting on Aquaculture Transformation, which was held in 2022.

To set the scene, the meeting began with a panel discussion on “Innovation and investment for aquaculture transformation: What’s going on in the region and the way forward?” Panelists were Rakesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner for Fisheries, DoF India; Zhu Jian, Chief of the R&D Division, Freshwater Fisheries Research Center, China; Amorn Luengnaruemitchai, Chairman of the Thai Tilapia Farmers Association and Managing Director of Manit Farms, Thailand; Chris Aurand, Innvation Leader, SPACE_F, Thailand, and Tom Prins, Head of Deal Flow, Aqua-Spark, the Netherlands. It was moderated by Michael Phillips, FUTUREFISH.

The meeting discussed and reviewed a draft Action Guide for Aquaculture Transformation for Asia and the Pacific Region, developed through two expert consultation workshops, involving virtual and in-person dialogue on 9–10 May and 11–12 July 2023. The action guide provides guidance to both public and private sector actors on progressing aquaculture transformation against the priority areas for innovation and investment identified by the white paper. It also guides the development of mechanisms to support implementation and monitor progress. The action guide is in press and will be published on the FAO / NACA websites in due course.

A key proposal discussed in plenary at the meeting was the development of an Asia-Pacific Aquaculture Innovation and Investment Hub, as a regional mechanism providing policy advice, monitoring, resource mobilisation, partnership and capacity building functions as a regional platform driving aquaculture transformation. The discussion focussed on the organisation, structure, mandate and functions of the hub, resource mobilisation strategies and proposed activities and workplan from 2024 to 2026.

The aquaculture innovation hub concept is still at an early stage of development. Further details will be published on the NACA website in due course.

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