The rise of aquaculture

Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food sectors, and is poised to address the problem of food insecurity around the world.

11 April 2019 | Fishing

From 2 to 4 April, hundreds of aquatic animal experts gathered in Santiago, Chile for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Global Conference on Aquatic Animal Health.

The focus was on global performance in disease prevention, which costs more than US$6 billion a year, as well as the monitoring of outbreaks across borders and the need to implement international standards to uphold aquatic animal health.

The conference, which was hosted and supported by the government of Chile under the theme 'Collaboration, Sustainability: Our Future', highlighted the critical need for coordinated global health programmes to safeguard aquaculture productivity and sustainability.

It also included a programme of discussions around disease management, biosecurity and the responsible use of antimicrobials, which are the main challenges currently faced by the aquaculture sector.

A statement issued by the OIE said the conference was aimed at discussing health challenges and solutions within the aquaculture sector.

“Aquatic animals today provide around 3.2 billion people with almost 20% of their average per capita intake of animal protein.

“But recent projections suggest that, to satisfy the growing demand for fish and seafood, production will have to double by 2030, with the majority of this growth coming from aquaculture,” the statement said.

“Careful management of the health of aquatic animals has consequently become essential to supporting the development of sustainable aquaculture and to overcome sanitary and biodiversity challenges emerging from high production and trade volumes, as well as from the open environment in which these populations often live.”

The conference also highlighted the recent updates on the OIE aquatic code and aquatic manual, and discussed the OIE's critical disease reporting tool - the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS).

Other highlights included sessions on managing transboundary and emerging diseases, biosecurity for aquaculture establishments, how to implement OIE international standards and advances in disease management.

OIE director-general Dr Monique Eloit said with the aquaculture sector growing rapidly in demand and production, it will likely face greater disease risks and health challenges.

“But by collaborating across borders and implementing OIE international standards, we can limit outbreaks of emerging diseases, which have already caused significant losses throughout the world, impacting national economies in some countries and threatening a vital source of nutritious animal protein,” said Eliot.

According to the marine resources ministry, the aquaculture sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Namibia. It consists of marine and inland aquaculture.

Marine aquaculture includes approximately 1 500 kilometres of largely uninhabited coastline at Lüderitz, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, which is described as unpolluted high-quality marine waters.

The local industry is characterised by the high availability of inexpensive fish by-products from the established fish-processing sector, for the inclusion in wet aqua-feeds, as well as well-established processing, packaging and marketing systems, which exist due to the marine capture fisheries that can be adapted for aquaculture purposes.

The ministry said inland aquaculture or freshwater fisheries are important in less arid areas such as the Zambezi and Okavango regions in the northeast and the Omusati, Kunene and Oshana regions in the northwest.

About 50% of the rural population live in the northern regions and derive food, income and informal employment from inland fish resources. Inland aquaculture includes on-land facilities and utilises ponds, tanks, and enclosures.

ILENI NANDJATO

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