Asia is the region that contributes 92 percent of the world aquaculture production. Currently, aquaculture supplied over 60 percent of food fish directly consumed by Asian population. In addition to its contribution to the regional food security and nutritional improvement, Asia is also the major supplier for seafood trade globally.
The past aquaculture production growth in Asia has been largely attributed to intensification of production with increasing dependence on artificial feeding. Aquaculture commodities produced through partial or complete feeding accounted for 45.2 percent of globally aquaculture production in 2014, compared with 42.5 percent 10 years ago. The total production of fed aquaculture species increased by 97.9 percent in the past 10 years.
The rapid growth of production of fed cultured species has resulted in drastic increase in demand for commercial feed. As a result, industrial aqua-feed production has increased at significantly higher rate than aquaculture production growth. The increased use of feed in aquaculture has greatly contributed to production efficiency and quality of products, and enabled farmers to better meet market requirements and achieve sound economic benefit. On the other hand, rapid increase in aquafeed use has also caused a number of issues which may threaten the sustainable growth of the industry in Asia-Pacific. The major issues include the following:
– Increased feed cost has caused significant reduction of profit margin in production of many important aquaculture commodities. Feed cost often accounts for 60-70 percent for commodities that entirely depend on artificial feed due to high cost of feed, low feed quality and poor feeding practices;
– In general, Asian aqua-feed production has become overly dependent on externally sourced key ingredients, such as fishmeal and soybean, which has not only pushed the price higher in the international market, but also led to potential supply problem due to competition.
The foreseen population and economy growth will increase demand for food fish significantly, estimated 31 million tonnes in the coming decades. In order to meet the demand for fish, it is important to maintain the sustainable growth of aquaculture in Asia, the major supplier of aquaculture production. Whether the issues related to aquaculture feed and feed ingredients can be effectively addressed is considered as one of the determining factor for aquaculture sustainable development in the region.
A regional consultation on responsible production and use of aquaculture feed and ingredients was identified by Asia- Pacific Fishery Commission as an important regional activity for FAO Regional Initiative for Blue Growth in Asia-Pacific.
The objective of the regional consultation was to review the current situation of aquaculture feed production and use, in respects of production status, demand and supply, sourcing of ingredients, government policies and institutional support, ongoing progress and development issues. The consultation attempted to recommend regional strategies and actions to promote responsible utilization of feed and feed ingredients for sustainable growth of aquaculture in Asia-Pacific through sharing of available knowledge, technological innovations and scaling up successful practices and further research and technology development.
The regional consultation covered four main themes:
– Development and use of alternatives of fishmeal and other high cost aquafeed ingredients in the region;
– Promote cost-effective aquaculture feed made of locally available feed ingredients in the region;
– Innovation in aquaculture farming and feeding practices for reduced feed costs and environment impacts at farm level;
– Traceability of aquaculture products in relation to feed and feed ingredients.
The regional consultation was convened through collaboration between FAO and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand. Representatives from concerned government authorities of 16 countries, 10 invited resource persons and 13 experts from research and education institutes, feed producers, farm association, aqua-feed manufacture sector and international and regional organizations participated in the regional consultation.
Invited resource persons delivered presentations on 10 selected topics highly relevant to responsible production and use of aquaculture feed and feed ingredients. Representative from 16 countries presented country status report on aquaculture feed production and use, which focused on aquafeed manufacture sector, application aquafeed, research and development progress in feed and feed ingredients and main issues and gaps based on the desk study with the advice from FAO and NACA. Two working group sessions were convened to analyze the major issues and gaps in production and use of aquaculture feed and feed ingredients and recommend regional strategy and actions for promoting responsible production and use of aquafeed and feed ingredients for sustainable growth of aquaculture in the region. The regional consultation provided a great opportunity for sharing available knowledge and successful technologies and good management practices related to responsible use of aquaculture feed and feed ingredients in the region.
Major issues and technology gaps related to responsible use of aquaculture feed and feed ingredients are identified as below:
– Being the major aquaculture region in the world, aquafeed sector is heavily dependent on imported key feed ingredients, particularly protein source, which is a potential threat to sustainable growth of aquaculture in the region;
– In general, Asian aquafeed sector is not able to provide quality feed that meet the requirement of different species, different culture environment/ system and different stages;
– Large number of small farmers have poor excess to quality and cost-effective feed in many countries in the region;
– Good feeding practices and other farming practices are yet to be promoted among the large number of small farmers for optimum feed efficiency;
– Despite the progress in developing local alternatives to key imported feed ingredients such as fish meal, the application in practical production has been very limited due to lack of efforts to transform research results into commercially applicable technologies;
– There is generally lack of conducive government policy for aquafeed industry and adequate regulatory framework to control the quality of aquafeed production and marketing.
The regional consultation recommended strategy and follow-up actions for promoting responsible use of aquaculture feed and feed ingredients for sustainable growth of aquaculture in the region.