Asia-Pacific launches sustainable aquaculture initiative
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced recently that the Asia-Pacific region is developing a coordinated strategy and action plan for the sustainable intensification of aquaculture.
Representatives from multiple sectors — senior government aquaculture and fisheries officials from 16 countries, representatives of specialized organizations, the private sector and international funding agencies — agreed on a regional strategy to grow fish production without compromising the environmental capacity to sustain production.
“Aquaculture is a critical sector in this region, which presently supplies more than 90 percent of world production,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific. “In total, aquaculture is responsible for more than half of all fisheries products we consume, and demand for aquaculture products is expected to increase.
“Therefore, the importance of this strategy and plan of action for environmentally sound intensification of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific cannot be understated.”
Asia-Pacific’s aquaculture output is responsible for more than 20 percent of total protein intake of people living within the region. However, as it is the most populous region of the world, and with heavy demands on natural resources, Asian aquaculture will face great challenges to sustain its growth and meet the increasing demand for fish inside and outside the region.
“It is estimated that fish consumption in Asia and the Pacific will increase by 30 percent by 2030 and aquaculture production may need to increase by 50 percent during that time to meet increased global demand for fish,” said Konuma. “With nearly two thirds of the world’s 800 million chronically undernourished people living here in our region, the sustainable intensification of aquaculture can assist with future food security needs and access to improved nutrition for hundreds of millions of people.”
The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Bangkok, Thailand, noted the importance of aquaculture while recognizing its many challenges: the impact of climate change and variability, urbanization and related social and economic changes, increasing intra-regional trade and increasing concern over the environment and food safety by the public.
The regional multi-stakeholder consultation that led to the strategy and action plan was convened by FAO in collaboration with the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA), the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) and the Department of Fisheries of the Royal Thai Government (Thai DOF).