|Annual fish catch per capita (kg): Asia
and the Pacific
production per capita (kg): Asia and the Pacific
While regional fish catch has changed little
over 30 years, aquaculture production has increased markedly
Note: fish catch includes marine and freshwater
catches but excludes crustaceans and molluscs
Source: compiled from Fishstat 2001 and United
Nations Population Division 2001
Fish production and aquaculture are practised extensively
in the region. Overexploitation of fish stocks and poor aquaculture practices
are of concern in Bangladesh (DoE, SACEP and UNEP 2001), India (ESCAP
and ADB 2000), Pakistan (ESCAP 1996), Sri Lanka, many Pacific Island countries
(PICs) and some other countries. Overexploitation of shrimp resources
in coastal waters has reduced exports from capture fisheries and encouraged
the growth of aquaculture in almost all countries of the region.
Mangrove clearance for shrimp culture has emerged as a major issue in
recent years. It is estimated that more than 60 per cent of Asia's mangroves
have already been converted to aquaculture farms (ESCAP and ADB 2000).
Besides encroaching on mangroves, aquaculture has led to the release of
nutrients, pathogens and potentially hazardous chemicals into marine waters.
In India, prawn farms have been constructed in low-lying coastal areas,
depriving impoverished farmers of agricultural land, causing salinization
of groundwater in coastal villages and polluting waterways with excess
nutrients (Subramaniam 1994 in ESCAP and ADB 2000).
A number of countries including Australia, India, Maldives, New Zealand,
Philippines and Sri Lanka have developed legislation to address problems
associated with pollution and overexploitation of fish stocks. Governments
have also initiated steps for fisheries management by reducing fishing
subsidies and regulating fishing access rights. The South Pacific tuna
fishery offers a model of international cooperation for open sea fishing
that may prove to be the first sustainable, multinational ocean fishery
in the world. Despite these positive initiatives, the pelagic and near-shore
fisheries continue to be overexploited by multinational corporations as
well as local fishermen, and negotiations are required to ensure that
the benefits of sustainable exploitation remain with Pacific communities.