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Seafood experts discuss climate change threat

Update: February, 27/2013 - 05:14

Breeders harvest shrimp in Vinh Trach Dong Commune in Bac Lieu in the Mekong Delta. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong

MEKONG DELTA (VNS) — Sustainable aquaculture in the face of climate change challenges and food safety were major concerns for members of the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) currently meeting in Can Tho City.

Representatives from 18 NACA member nations are attending a three-day meeting that closes today.

Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, said the NACA 24th annual conference offers members an opportunity to exchange information on achievements, experiences and challenges facing aquaculture in each country and the region as a whole.

The conference will also boost co-operation between NACA members and international organisations in developing sustainable aquaculture and ensuring food safety in member countries, Tam said.

NACA members are: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong of China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam.

According to NACA, annual per capita aquaproduct consumption in the Asia-Pacific region is about 29kg.

Since 2011, Viet Nam's aquaculture sector has posted annual production of more than 3 million tonnes with an average growth rate of about 16 per cent per year, said Nguyen Huy Dien, Deputy head of Viet Nam's Directorate of Fisheries.

"Although aquaculture production has contracted or stagnated in Japan, the US, and some European countries, global production will continue to rise, creating opportunities for many countries and states in the coming years," said Dien.

"Our NACA member states are still leading aquaculture production in the world," he said.

Aquaculture has made crucial contributions to food and nutritional security, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries.

"Asian countries, particularly China, Viet Nam, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh, have benefited from the culture of low tropic-level species such as carp, tilapia and Pangasius catfish," said Dien.

"Millions of jobs have been created to maintain stable sources of income and livelihood for a significant segment of the population directly or indirectly engaged in aquaculture in our member states," he added.

However, recent rapid developments in world aquaculture have spotlighted several challenges including the ongoing financial and economic crisis, greater climate change vulnerabilities and extreme weather events, degradation and pollution of coastal, marine and fresh water environments, diseases, and abuse of chemicals and drugs in fish farming.

He said the impacts and consequences of climate change on aquaculture should be paid careful attention.

Aquaculture is known to be very sensitive to climate variables and high levels of exposure to natural hazards and climate change impacts, said Dien.

"Therefore, I strongly recommend that the NACA continues to play an important role in promoting sustainable aquaculture in the region and assist member states with aquaculture development programs," he said.

"We also need to strengthen technical co-operation and provide guidance to member states with the aim of achieving higher production efficiency and introducing better aquaculture practices and for long-term sustainability add prosperity for all."

He asked the governments of NACA members to consider adopting and implementing a number of policies to support responsible and sustainable aquaculture development as well as to respond to and recover from impacts and consequences of climate change.

"We also need to co-operate with each other to help aquaculture production in some areas, to prevent disease outbreaks, control environmental pollution and resolve conflicts arising from the use of natural resources," said Dien. — VNS

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