Aquaculture touted in Southeast Asia
At a summit in General Santos City, the Philippines, this week, members of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) called on seafood enterprises to look to aquaculture as a way of sustaining the marine environment.
In a series of networking sessions, delegates were encouraged to look for new opportunities in high-value aquaculture ventures.
The BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a cooperative initiative between EAGA and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, which include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Dr. Jose Ingles, strategy leader for the World Wildlife Fund's Coral Triangle Program, was a key speaker at the summit.
"The aquaculture industry will certainly be sustained through environmental conservation," he said in his address, citing dwindling tuna stocks as an example of overfishing, which has led to the loss of biodiversity and natural habitat such as coral reefs.
The WWF is also one of the lead players in the Coral Triangle Initiative, formed to protect the region's coral.
Also speaking at the summit was Sani Macabalang, regional director of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic (BFAR).
"By advancing the aquaculture sector, we provide a breathing space to our marine species to regenerate, while the fishing operators and their workers to have an alternative source of living," he said. "Aquaculture contributes 45 percent to the overall fish production in the world and also poses a noteworthy input in my region [Region 12] where the tuna purse-seine fishing ban is most felt. Aquaculture has provided what the capture sector lost from overfishing and mismanagement."
Abalone, grouper, sea bass and pompano were among the high-value farmed seafood species Macabalang listed.