25th NACA Governing Council held in Vientiane, Lao PDR

The 25th Governing Council Meeting was convened from 25-27 March 2014 in the Mercure Hotel, Vientiane, Lao PDR. The meeting was attended by 17 member governments, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), INFOFISH, the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and the USAID MARKET Project. A welcome address was given by The Hon. Dr H.E. Phuang Parisack Pravongviengkham, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Forestry. Opening remarks were given by the outgoing Chair of the Governing Council, Dr Nguyen Huy Dien, the incoming Chair Dr Bounthong Saphakdy and Dr Ambekar Eknath, Director General of NACA.

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • NACA welcomed the Republic of the Maldives as the 19th member government of NACA. As a small island developing nation the Maldives is heavily dependent on fisheries resources for economic development. Given the limitations of its wild fisheries and a comparative advantage in the high quality of its marine environment the Maldives wishes to develop a mariculture industry and to focus on value-adding to provide an alternative source of income and employment to fishers. The Maldives therefore looks forward to collaboration with NACA members in these areas.
  • The Governing Council elected Dr Cherdsak Virapat as the next Director General of NACA, who will serve a five year term from 2014-2019. Dr Virapat will commence duties in June after a handover period from the outgoing Director General, Dr Ambekar Eknath.
  • The Governing Council has commissioned a comprehensive review of NACA to evaluate its role, operations, staffing and funding levels in light of the contemporary operating environment and changing needs of member governments. The development landscape has changed considerably over the past 25 years of NACA’s existence as an independent inter-governmental organisation and it was considered timely to evaluate the status and direction of the organisation.
  • Aquatic animal health (particularly the current state of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease of shrimp) and aquaculture certification and benchmarking issues featured prominently in the discussions.

The 26th NACA Governing Council meeting will be held in Indonesia in 2015, the date and venue will be announced at a later time.