* ICLARM is now known as WorldFish Center

Naga - The *ICLARM Quarterly
Vol. 22, No. 3 (July - September 1999)

There are millions of children around the world who seldom have the opportunity to enjoy fresh and nutritious seafood as the young girls on the cover are doing. In fact many of them have diets that are low in nutrition, even when they do get enough to eat. Aquaculture holds great promise for increasing the availability of affordable food, protein and nutrients for human consumption and a healthier future for these children.

Aquaculture has already been very successful towards increasing the supply of fish and now supplies nearly 30% of the food fish consumed worldwide. The scientific advancements in aquaculture have led  many analysts to write about a ‘blue revolution’.

However, at what costs will aquaculture grow? Some of the environmental costs have already been realized and some are still unknown. On the other hand, eco-friendly aquaculture has also been shown to exist. The development and expansion of aquaculture must be and can be balanced with the need to protect the integrity of existing ecosystems. The introduction of new organisms or breeds into aquatic ecosystems can sometimes have negative consequences. It is important to study and assess the possible unintended effects before the introduction of a new species, especially if it is likely to affect biodiversity.

This issue of the Naga has comments on three very different experiences of introductions of exotic aquatic organisms. One is an example of the successful creation of a whole new food industry with no negative side effects (the tilapia in Sri Lanka) and one that has had severely negative consequences (the golden apple snail in Japan). The third one highlights a potentially interesting situation for a case study on the adaptability, heritability, taxonomy and genetic variability of the rainbow trout in a number of distinct populations that have developed through successive introductions over the last century into a game fishery in India. This microcosm of the rainbow trout in the Nilgiri streams can provide useful information on the genetic profile and taxonomic status of an important aquaculture species that could be exploited on a larger scale for human consumption.

As an important element of its work, *ICLARM focuses on the development of sustainable aquaculture that will directly benefit poor people in developing countries. Both in Africa and Asia we have carried out research on resource flows on small farms to increase their productivity by integrating aquaculture into the system and using farm resources and wastes more efficiently. Considerable research and extension work has gone into developing inexpensive techniques for small farmers to raise fish in their household ponds and other unused seasonal waterbodies, like ponds, ditches and canals. Raising fish in ricefields has demonstrated benefits for rice productivity as well as providing fish to eat and sell. At a somewhat different level, a high yielding strain of the tilapia has been developed through selective breeding techniques. It promises a significantly higher output of this fish that is native to Africa but is now widely farmed in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This research also provides a methodology that can be applied to other species for developing more productive strains of fish for culture. Marine aquaculture of giant clams, tropical sea cucumbers and pearl oysters is being researched and established at the village level in the Solomon Islands. Our scientific and technical research and developments are based on people’s needs and accessibility to resources so that the benefits to poor producers and consumers are maximized.

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