Delegates from NACA member governments, regional lead centres and international partner organisations were welcomed by Dr B. Meenakumari, Deputy Director General (Fisheries) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Opening remarks were delivered by Dr Nantiya Unprasert, Deputy Director General of the Thai Department of Fisheries and by the Director General of NACA, Prof. Sena De Silva.
The Secretariat and the Regional Lead Centres for China, India, Thailand and the Philippines gave progress reports on their activities over the past year leading into a discussion and proposals for the year ahead. While many issues were raised at the meeting, key points included the following:
- The need to improving the sustainability and productivity of aquaculture through promotion of group-based implementation of science-based better management practices by small scale farmers will continue to be a key focus of the work programme, expanding into new commodities.
- The impacts of climate change are a universal and increasing concern to member governments, not only in terms of environmental damage but also on the livelihoods of rural communities and potentially severe implications for food security.
- Many members are placing increasing emphasis on freshwater aquaculture production, particularly with regards to culture-based fisheries and improved utilisation of dams and reservoirs. NACA’s food safety and quality programme, currently focusing on on-farm issues will be expanded to include the processing sector, which form a large component of exports. Organic aquaculture will also be included in the work programme.
- NACA will facilitate group-based approaches to certification of aquaculture products to enable small scale farmers to access such schemes.
The meeting also saw the election of Dr Ambekar E. Eknath as the new Director General of NACA. He will serve a five year term commencing on 1 September 2011.
Dr Eknath is well known throughout NACA after previous positions as the Director of the Central Institute for Freshwater Aquaculture, the NACA regional lead centre for India and as a researcher for fish breeding at BioSoft/GenoMar at the University of Oslo Research Park. His most famous work however is his pioneering work in development of the genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) strain with the WoldFish Center (formerly ICLARM), where he worked for ten years.
The Governing Council also expressed their appreciation to the outgoing Director General, Professor Sena De Silva for his substantial contribution to regional aquaculture development and for the personal commitment he has displayed to aquaculture development in the region.