Senior government aquaculture and fisheries officials from 16 countries in the region, along with representatives of specialised organisations, the private sector and international funding agencies have agreed a regional strategy and action plan for the sustainable intensification of aquaculture for Asia and the Pacific.
“Aquaculture is a critical sector in this region which presently supplies more than 90 per cent 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.”
In order to deliver what’s needed and to achieve this sustainably, it must be done in such a way that does not compromise the environmental capacity to sustain production and ensures that products are safe and nutritious.
“Therefore, the importance of this strategy and plan of action for environmentally sound intensification of aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific cannot be understated,” said Konuma, recognising the plan of action’s practical shorter-term activities and longer term goals.
While Asia-Pacific’s aquaculture outputs help nourish the world, they are also responsible for more than 20 per cent 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 per cent by 2030 and aquaculture production may need to increase by 50 per cent 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,” Konuma added, recalling the recent outcome of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) that recognised the importance of aquaculture.
At the same time, the aquaculture sector is facing a lot of challenges, such as 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.
Thus the only way to meet the increasing demand for fish is to promote sustainable intensification of aquaculture, while ensuring environmental sustainability, which means “to produce more with less” by increasing the productivity and efficiency in aquaculture production with reduced consumption of resources and mitigating negative environmental and social impacts.
The strategy and plan of action aims to work with all stakeholders to improve governance, management practices and the adoption of innovative technologies.