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Willingness to Develop Sustainable Practices Could See the Region Lead in Aquaculture, the Fastest-growing Food Production Sector Globally, as Marine Supplies Shrink and Ecosystems Become Increasingly Fragile
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This study provides an analysis of sustainability in the ASEAN aquaculture industry, with a specific focus on the current status of the three leading producers in the region—Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world, fuelled by stagnating global capture fisheries, rising global protein demand, and rapid population growth. At present, ASEAN is the second-largest aquaculture producing region in the world. Growth in ASEAN aquaculture is driven by the steady development of industries in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. In order to maintain seafood supplies from ASEAN, aquaculture practices in the region will be required to address the challenges pertaining to feed and seed quality, minimise disease outbreaks, and mitigate the deleterious impacts of farming operations on the environment. Issues such as climate change, growing concerns on the environment and food safety amongst consumers, and security of supply and scarcity of raw materials are the key drivers for addressing sustainability challenges in ASEAN. As global marine supplies shrink and ecosystems become increasingly fragile, sustainable aquaculture will become increasingly important in the ASEAN region. ASEAN aquaculture producers are in a position to strategically implement sustainability protocols (environmental and social) as a unique selling point for their products in order to increase their value, particularly for exports.The most significant barriers to the sustainable management of ASEAN aquaculture industry are: lack of effective regulations, limited availability of resources and support services, and inability to leverage advanced technologies. Although efforts have been made to adopt policies and establish regulatory frameworks to properly develop and manage sustainable aquaculture practices, several countries in the region are still lagging behind. The implementation of more ecologically-sound management practices is fundamentally constrained by the lack of financial and skilled human resources. Thus, issues of poverty and urbanisation need to be addressed in order to effectively manage the sustainable development of ASEAN aquaculture. In order to achieve this, the public and private sectors will be required to work collaboratively to create effective and efficient sustainability solutions.The technologies currently available for sustainable aquaculture include: feed alternatives, hatchery produced seed, gene and breeding technology, biosecurity monitoring technologies, water purifying agents, holding systems, and advanced harvesting methods. However, the large-scale adoption of such biotechnological innovations in ASEAN is constrained, as their cost is exorbitant for small-scale farmers who continue to form the foundation of aquaculture in the region. The ongoing development of biotechnological innovations for aquaculture will depend on the willingness of the ASEAN aquaculture industry to work collaboratively with scientists and the international donor community on related research, capacity building, and infrastructure development.
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