Six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the world’s largest consumer of fish products, have come together to draft a work plan on the sustainable intensification of aquaculture for ‘blue growth,’ the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), announced.
Representatives from the Governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam are working with FAO global and regional fishery and aquaculture experts in the development of an FAO regional initiative to enhance production of aquaculture in an environmentally sound and sustainable way – “blue growth.”
“Rapid GDP growth and rapid urbanization in Asia and the Pacific are resulting in a rapid change in dietary habits,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “This has resulted in a growing demand for high-value protein-rich foods like meat and fish.”
FAO predicts that increase in demand will continue well into the foreseeable future as socio-economic changes and increased urbanization keep pace. Citing research by UNDP, Konuma indicated that the percentage of middle income earners in Asia-Pacific would triple by 2020 (from 2009) and would grow six-fold by 2030, exponentially increasing demand for fish consumption, “especially in China, India and Indonesia,” he added.
In order to keep up, FAO predicts Asian aquaculture production will need to increase by more than 60 percent to meet the projected consumption demand by 2030 - just to meet the demand in Asia. The region already accounts for 90 percent of global aquaculture production and 50 percent of present global consumption.
Based on the past trends of aquaculture in different regions, Asia is expected to make a major contribution to meet such increased global demand for fish through further aquaculture growth. China and many other nations are increasing their investments in aquaculture to help meet this growing demand.
The fastest growth in production will likely be species of tilapia, carp, and catfish – all of which are freshwater species in the Asia-Pacific region and produced in considerable quantities. Global tilapia production is expected to almost double from 4.3 million tons to 7.3 million tons a year between 2010 and 2030.
Aquaculture will provide close to two thirds of global food fish consumption by 2030 as catches from wild capture fisheries level off.
“There is a clear need to intensify aquaculture but it must be sustainable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable,” said Konuma during opening remarks at this two-day inception workshop. “FAO is supporting each country with its own initiatives in blue growth strategies and workplans,” he said, adding that the aim of this workshop is to develop workplans and have them in place by March or April next year in advance of FAO’s biannual Conference in Rome, Italy in June 2015.