The world population is forecast to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. To maintain our food supply global agricultural output must increase by around 60% from present levels. Our starting position is that globally around one billion people are suffering from hunger and poverty right now. More than half of them, 578 million, live in the Asian region.
The objective of the consultation was to develop a regional strategic policy framework to guide national governments and regional organizations in promoting sustainable intensification of aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region. The consultation also identified priority actions and, where possible, practical measures for their implementation.
The consultation specifically focussed on intensifying aquaculture through more efficient use of resources and environmentally sound practices. Farm productivity and environmental performance must be improved through a combination of forward-looking policies, better management practices and technological improvements, rather than by increasing inputs to the system.
The consultation considered these issues within the prevailing socio-economic context of aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region – a sector characterised by large numbers of small-scale, family-operated farms that require special attention if aquaculture is to continue to contribute significantly towards their welfare. Practical interventions must address this reality if real change is to occur.
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This publication is the major output of a regional programme jointly implemented by FAO and NACA in 2015 to document and disseminate successful practices that contribute to the sustainable intensification of aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region. Twelve practices are described that contribute to at least one of the following: Improved production and resource use efficiency (land, water, feed, energy); improved environmental benefits; strengthened economic viability and farmers' resilience; and improved social acceptance and equity.
To provide food to the world’s population in 2050, it has been estimated that agricultural output, primarily from crops, livestock and fisheries, including aquaculture, must increase by 60 percent. Intensification of aquaculture is inevitable in the face of increasing demand, limited land areas, and improved technology. Whether we are able to accomplish this in a sustainable manner will depend on global governance and stewardship as much as on technological progress.
Improved feed management represents a critical component in the sustainability equation, and the industry’s responses, particularly in respect to the use of fish meal and fish oil, will determine whether feeds are likely to become a limiting factor in attaining sustainability. In order to continue to contribute to global food fish supply, the sector will have to intensify. The presentation discusses plausible means of reducing dependence on these commodities as well.
Asian aquaculture is the world’s major user of fishmeal, and 86 percent of fishmeal used in Asia (excluding China) now goes to aquaculture. With no new sources of fish, many argue that we have already reached the limit in coastal trawl fisheries. There is a shift away from using fresh fish directly as feed, towards pelleted feeds. The Asian aquaculture industry will be affected as supplies tighten and costs rise.
The Atlantic salmon, tilapia and whiteleg shrimp are the most successful aquaculture species. Fundamental to this success has been the success of genetic improvement of the broodstock. Selective breeding has taken a sustained long-term effort. Genetic gains in shrimp have contributed to annual gains in pond efficiency, translating into lower costs of energy, labour, capital and feed costs, combined with higher annual yields.
Carbon footprint has become a useful tool for greenhouse gas emission assessment and management for climate change mitigation, and is expected to increase in importance, assisting in identifying hot spots for improvement, evaluating performance of different farming systems, comparing new and current products, and selecting appropriate climate-friendly technologies. Comparative carbon footprint values can give an indication of green farming systems as well as climate-conscious products.
Although there is no panacea on the horizon, there is a huge potential to increase Asian aquaculture productivity through wider dissemination of existing technologies, especially in less developed countries. Greater implementation of better management practices will improve efficiency of existing systems, and an ecosystem approach to aquaculture will contribute to more appropriate integration of aquaculture with other land uses, and to preserving environmental integrity.
Bangladesh ranked thirteenth in 2009 among 34 Asian countries in terms of aquaculture production. Within the fisheries sector, shrimp make the largest contribution in terms of foreign exchange earnings. Focus should be on overcoming the constraints identified along the value chain. Efforts should focus on increasing profitability and income from the sector, by improving governance through proper implementation of institutional policies and rules; improving access to resources and other measures.
Aquaculture planning and management tools are supported by a range of broader cross-cutting system capacities needed by any jurisdiction to fulfill its responsibilities with respect to ensuring ESD and thereby, the sustainable intensification of aquaculture. These include legal instruments, standard operating procedures, capacity and capability (expertise) necessary to implement the specific tools. The single most important tool necessary in all instances is the political vision and leadership.
Farmers organised as a cluster engage in collective planning, decision making and implementation of crop activities, using a participatory approach to accomplish their common goals. The evidence shows that if farmers can see benefits, particularly long-term benefits, they will change their farming practices under a variety of conditions and drivers. With provision of adequate support and services they can be part of the solution in moving aquaculture towards sustainability.