Lymer, D., Funge-Smith, S. & Miao, W. 2010. Status and potential of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific 2010. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. RAP Publication 2010/17. 85 pp.
The APFIC biennial review “Status and Potential of Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific 2010” is intended to provide updated information on emerging issues relevant to fisheries and aquaculture, and to summarize regional information on some of the key trends that affect these resources and production systems. General trends in marine capture fisheries and in the APFIC region
The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the world’s largest producer of fish. The Asia-Pacific region has been the world’s largest producer of fish for decades and in 2008, has further increased its contribution to 51 percent of global capture production (from 49 percent in 2006 and 46 in 2004). Globally, marine capture production has decreased since 2006, however production from the Asia and Pacific region is still increasing. Capture fisheries production from the Asia and the Pacific region in 2008 increased by 2.9 percent from its 2006 level, totalling 47.0 million tonnes. Of the top ten producers of capture fish in the world, six states are in Asia and the Pacific region. China is still by far the largest producer in the region representing 34 percent of total regional production.
Excluding China, capture fishery production from marine waters in the APFIC region has recorded its highest catch ever, with 26.5 million tonnes in 2008. Southeast Asian capture production has continued to increase and there has been a slower increase in South Asia. The sub-region Other Asia used to be the top contributor to capture fishery production in the region, but capture production has declined since 1988 and now shows signs of levelling off.
There is a general perception globally that fishery resources are declining and that the marine environment is deteriorating as a result of fishing and other human activities. In South and Southeast Asia, catch trends are generally showing consistent increases, that may be masking underlying fishing effects such as serial depletion of higher trophic level species and a tendency towards faster recruiting, lower trophic level species.
The expansion of new areas and transhipment of species between fishing areas complicates trend reporting by area and the determination of the status of stocks in specific localities. This combination of lack of detailed information and limited critical analysis of trends of the state of fish stocks means that a clear message regarding the need for action to implement management measures is not being clearly communicated. It also leads to a false assumption that there remains significant potential for further expansion of fishing.
Maximum sustainable Yield (MSY) is a measure used to express the level of production that a fish stock or fishery can sustain, without suffering a decline in production. The use of total potential yield for an entire fishery may be misleading, since the complex composition of tropical fisheries means that individual species can suffer sever depletion, but compensation by fast-recruiting, small species continues to provide the same or even higher total weight of catch from the fishery.
Many countries appear to have not exceeded their declared or estimated MSY for the fisheries listed. This might suggest that fishing the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea sub-regions is commensurate with the production potential of the fishery. Unfortunately these figures probably hide a more serious underlying story:
- The percentage composition of resources indicates a shift towards small, faster recruiting species.
- Species or resource group assessments record over-fishing or depletion of larger, longer-lived and more valuable species.
- CPUE (catch per unit effort) appears to be declining for many of the assessed stocks, fishing gears or fisheries.
- Trash fish quantities are rising and form significant percentages of some fishery production.Issue of reporting species composition – not elsewhere included (‘nei’)
There remains a considerable proportion of the regions capture production that is not identified to the species level. In 2008, 14.3 million tonnes or 30 percent of capture production in the Asia and Pacific region was not identified to species, order, or family level. The biggest producers of nei fish (Southeast Asia, China and South Asia) also report the least disaggregated data. It is notable that China has improved its reporting on individual species. The reporting on nei species has been reduced from 52 percent on reported capture production in 2002 to 31 percent in 2008. Marine capture fisheries in the South China Sea and Bay of Bengal sub-regions
In its biennial review for 2010, APFIC goes beyond analysis of aggregated official statistics and works closely with fishery professionals in the Region to bring detailed information on more local trends a that underlie some of the big picture statistics. As part of major shift towards ecosystem level reporting in marine fisheries, APFIC has modified the analysis of marine capture fisheries to focus on two marine areas: the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea.
Compiling data from a variety of sources at an ecosystem level enables a clearer overall picture of the fisheries to be developed, that goes beyond national capture production statistics. By using a range of indicators related to fishing and fishery resources, the human, economic and environmental characteristics of these fisheries can be view as inter-related components, rather than isolated trends or data points.
This approach is in line with the recommendation of the 30th APFIC Session to promote ecosystem approaches to management. Presentation of information in this format enables policy issues to be viewed in a broader context and increase the understanding of how they relate to other aspects of fisheries and aquaculture management. It is expected that this review will also encourage APFIC member countries to look deeper into the information and statistics which they collect regularly or occasionally, and try to present them in a more integrated, holistic manner, thereby deepening the analysis and understanding of trends in the region’s fisheries and aquaculture.
The 30th Session of APFIC recommended that efforts were made to improve the reporting of marine capture fisheries data. Following on to this APFIC together with FAO and SEAFDEC and member countries conducted a series of workshops to explore the idea of using existing survey data to better estimate trends in stock development for marine capture statistics.South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand region
The production trends of the past 10 years do not reveal the changes very clearly, as the majority of the impact is presumed to have taken place during the massive expansion of fisheries effort between 1975 and 1985.
There have been clear ecosystem level effects, however more recent data for the past 10 years may indicate that the South China Sea area has reached a low level plateau and the large composing shifts of previous decades have now settled down to favour an ecosystem dominated by small species. These lower value species are being utilized variously (surimi, canned fish, fishmeal, aquaculture feeds), but the loss has been in the higher value larger species and this fishing is increasingly having to work harder to catch a lower value product. In economic terms this is rather inefficient, however, may also reflect the tendency towards maximizing employment in the fishery at the expense of economic efficiency and product quality in many of the developing countries which comprise this region.Fishery/stock assessments
Based on reports for country correspondents, using national fishery assessment data available, some general trends can be developed for this regions EEZ waters. Since national EEZ cover almost the entire South China Sea, this is a relatively good proxy indicator for the state of the sub-region.
The heaviest pressure on stocks is the western side of the South China sea (in the shallower shelf fisheries) with less fishing pressure on stocks around Sabah, Sarawak and parts of the Philippines. The stocks of large demersals and small demersals are overfished in a majority of the areas. Large and small pelagics are overfished or fully fished in a majority of the cases. Stocks of anchovies and sardines are overfished in a majority of the assessed fisheries. Low value/trash fish species are fully fished and all of the assessed stocks of surimi species are considered overfished. The stocks of squids/cuttlefish and crustaceans are rated as fully fished or overfished in all the assessed fisheries. CPUE/ catch rates
For a majority of the assessed fisheries (by gear) in the region, the catch per unit effort (CPUE) and catch rates are declining. A majority of the assessed trawl fisheries show declining CPUE or catch trends. Also a majority of the assessed purse seine fisheries showed declining CPUE or catch rates. All net fisheries assessed show declining CPUE or catch rates. Other reported fisheries also showed general decline in CPUE.
It should be noted that CPUE cannot be used as a measure of the state of a fishery in isolation, as other efficiencies can be introduced to a fishery, such as with technology improvement, that may hide a declining CPUE. In the case of the South China Sea, the situation is rather clear, with quite large decreases in CPUE, certainly over the past 30 years and even over the past decade.Low value/trash fish production
Total production of low value/trash fish species in the South China Sea region is estimated at 4.85 million tonnes. The proportion of trash fish as a percentage of total production varies vary according to area, but reaches 60 percent or more in some areas. Overall in the reported fisheries, low value/trash fish is consistently more than 20 percent of overall catch a considerably higher percentage for the trawl fisheries (more typically 40-60 percent ).Fish meal production
The total fish meal production for the south China Seas region is estimated at 574 164 tonnes and is derived largely from the catch above, although there are some targeted small pelagic fisheries which are directed into fish meal production. There is increasing interest in finding small pelagic fisheries which can be certified for fishmeal production, in order to enable the production of certified animal feeds (e.g. pet foods and aquaculture feeds) and more generally to demonstrate the increased responsibility of fish meal fisheries.Capture production of surimi species
The production of surimi in the region has increased dramatically over the past decade and has reached more than 321 250 tonnes in the South China Sea region. This is a reflection of several drivers: improved processing techniques and increasing use of species previously regarded low value trash fish category. The quantity of surimi produced and the sources and quantities of raw materials need to be tracked more accurately in future assessments.Vessel numbers and employment
Based on reports, there are approximately 1.64 million fishing vessels operating in the SCS region, the majority of which are small- scale vessels. The number of people employed in the sector in the South China Sea area, is more than 4.66 million people of which more than 2 million are part time. These employment figures can be considered are an underestimate due to non-inclusion of fishers in Indonesia’s Natuna Sea (FMA 711) fishery, as well as under-estimation of part time fishers and possibly non-national crew numbers.
Obtaining good estimates of vessel numbers and estimates of employment, continues to be a challenge this sub-region. There remain incomplete vessel registers and records, and information on employment is generally obtained from 10 year census. As a source of periodic data, the population and agricultural census can be useful indicators, but may still be incomplete and typically do not enumerate non-nationals.Fishery zoning and management measures (including protected areas)
All the countries have zoning of their EEZ, with two or more zones and some having up to four different zones. Closed areas and closed seasons are common in the near shore zone (Zone 1) of many countries in the region. Gear restriction and licensing, when applied, are used in all different zones. Size limits (e.g. fish length) and quotas are not used by any of the countries the region as a management measure. Closed areas come in many forms of which marine protected areas (MPAs) are the most common, with at least 726 MPAs at national, district and local level. The total area of these is uncertain and will be updated in later reports if the information becomes available.Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea region
The overall picture for the fisheries of the Bay of Bengal sub-region is more diverse than that of the South Chinas Sea. This sub-region does not have the extensive area of productive shelf fisheries found in the south China Sea and is more dominated by pelagic resources. These resources are still subject to overfishing and depletion in some areas.
The Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea region has seen total catches steadily increasing and there are no signs of the catch levelling off. However, when looking at groups of catch there are clear indications that the catch, although increasing, has changed composition. From initially, and up until quite recently, being composed of large and valuable catch it has in the last 5 to 10 years become more and more made up of lower value and smaller fish.Catch composition trends and production
The trend in catch composition from the assessed fisheries in the Bay of Bengal region over the past 10 years, differs depending on areas. The trend for catches of large demersals can be divided by eastern and western parts, with catches in the east decreasing whereas the catches in the west are increasing.
- Small demersal species: overall stable or increasing relative catch in the region.
- Large and small pelagics: relative catch trends are increasing or are stable.
- Sharks and rays: catch of sharks and rays are decreasing in a majority of the assessed fisheries however it is also increasing in some fisheries.
- Squids/ cuttlefish, Crustaceans and Shellfish: both increasing and decreasing relative catch trends.
- Anchovy/ Sardine: Catches have increased in half of the assessed fisheries.
- Trash fish: The relative catches have declined in the region over the course of the assessments. The total production of trash fish is around 800 000 tonnes and together with anchovies/ sardines still make up between 12 – 47 percent of the total catch in the region. Fishery/stock assessments
The stock assessments performed for the different groups of species show that a majority of the stocks in the region are overfished or fully fished. There is also a large fraction of the stocks that are rated as moderately fished. The stocks of large demersals and small demersals are overfished in a majority of the areas, whereas large and small pelagics are overfished or fully fished in a majority of the cases. For all these groups some stocks are scored as moderately fished.
The stocks of anchovies and sardines are fully fished in a majority of the assessed fisheries. The assessed stocks of surimi species are moderately fished but certain stocks are overfished or even under-fished. The stocks of crustaceans are rated as fully fished in a majority of the assessed fisheries whereas squids/cuttlefish have some stocks fully fished whereas others are moderately fished.CPUE
For a majority of the assessed fisheries (by gear) in the region the catch per unit effort (CPUE) and catch rates are declining, with the majority of the assessed trawl fisheries show declining CPUE or catch trends. The majority of the assessed purse seine fisheries show declining CPUE or catch rates, other seine-type fisheries are also declining. A majority of the net fisheries assessed show declining CPUE or catch rates. Low value / Trash fish production
Total production of trash/low value fish species in the Bay of Bengal region 0.90 million tonnes (including whole of India). Overall in the reported fisheries low value trash fish is ranges between 4 to 65%, with a more typical range of 14-64%. The principal source of this is reported from trawlers. Fish meal production
The total fish meal production for the Bay of Bengal region is estimated at 152 000 tonnes (Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand production is reported under South China Sea region). This is presumed to be derived largely from the catch above. The region produces large quantities of dried fish, which are powdered/pounded to form basic animal feeds or fish feeds or directly as human food and which are not classified as fishmeal. There appears to be interest in some areas (e.g. India) to increase the utilization of discards (75 000 tonnes) for fish meal by establishing a collection system at sea. This could start to drive direct targeting and mesh size reductions if a significant onshore market was established. This has been the experience form the South China Sea region. Capture production of surimi species
The relative catch of surimi species has increased in all assessed areas the total production for the region is roughly estimated as 75 000 tonnes, requiring approximately 262 500 tonnes of raw material. Many countries in the Bay of Bengal region do not produce surimi in significant quantities. Vessel numbers and employment
The total number of vessels in the BOB region numbers less than 415 000 (this includes all of India and thus west coast Indian fleet should be subtracted. Small-scale, outboard, non-motorized or artisanal gears comprise 77 percent of the fishing vessels. The number of people employed in the sector is more than 1.6 million people of with a large fraction of part time fishers. Fishery zoning and management measures (including protected areas)
All countries have two or more zones and most countries have two zones but some have up to four different zones. The zoning is partly used to apply different management measures for different areas and different fleet segments. Closed areas and closed seasons are common in the near shore zone (Zone 1) of many countries in the region but there are examples of these measures being applied in other zones. Gear restriction and licensing, when applied, are used in all different zones for most countries. Size limits (e.g. fish length) are used by some countries but quotas are not used by any of the countries the region as a management measure. Closed areas come in many forms of which marine protected areas (MPAs) total of at least 636 MPAs at national, district and local level. Additionally there are examples of oil exploration areas that are often de facto no fishing zones, and there are seasonally closed areas in many of the countries.Interest in potential for offshore fisheries
Based on the findings of the FAO/SEAFDEC/APFIC Workshop on assessment and management of the offshore resources of South and Southeast Asia, the countries of South and Southeast Asia all have policies to promote and expand fishing further offshore from their coasts. Whilst it is known that there are resources which could be exploited in the offshore waters of South and Southeast Asia, including tunas, small pelagic resources, oceanic squid and some economically important demersal species such as snapper and grouper and deep-sea shrimp, the extent of the potential is not known as exploratory fishing and technology advances are still being made.
Indications are that these resources are limited and, in the case of the oceanic tuna, are already heavily fished in both the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Indications are that they are approximately 10 percent of the densities that are typically found in nearshore areas. There is a high risk that this limited control will become even more overstretched as fishing capacity moves offshore, leading to increased IUU activity and subsequent undermining of sustainable management objectives. Inland capture fishery production
Inland capture fisheries production in the region increased by 6.0 percent to reach 6.7 million tonnes in 2008. This region contributes 65.6 percent of global inland fisheries production. In inland waters, excluding China, total production of the region reported in 2006 was 4.5 million tonnes. For the Chinese sub-region, inland production in 2008 was 2.2 million tonnes (33.5 percent of the total regional catch).
This overall increase in inland fisheries is probably a result of more enhancement and growing effort that increases the yield. Part of the increase is probably because of a significant re-evaluation of the contribution of inland fisheries that greatly revised the previous underestimates upwards. This is also a cause for concern since real production may be decreasing.Historical and systematic under-estimation of inland capture fishery production
Most countries at some stage review their inland fisheries statistics based on newer information, or improved estimation of the proxy indicators. As a result of this type of updated information, countries may revise their inland fisheries production quite radically, resulting in a significant increase or decrease in the reported inland fishery production of the country. Large changes in national estimates indicate that there may have been a significant revision in the statistical data collection system, or an adjustment in the national estimate based on new supporting evidence.
Analysis of the reported inland waters capture production data in the Asia-Pacific region has shown that individual countries have reported an overall annual increase of more than 40 percent, a total of 128 times in terms of national statistics between 1950 and 2007. Seventeen of these events were confined to seven and represent more than 36 percent of the total change between 1951 and 2007 or 2 050 966 tonnes.
It can be concluded therefore, that the regional trend in inland catch is significantly driven by these large changes in only eight countries. These revised estimates do not represent a sudden increase, but almost certainly a systematic and historical under-estimation of the national production. It is important to avoid the assumption that production is increasing, when in fact a rising trend may be driven by re-adjustment of the baseline. Furthermore, for some countries at least, this might hide an overall trend of decline in the inland fishery. Status of enhancement of inland fisheries resources in Asia
Enhancement and conservation of inland fisheries resources has been long practiced in many Asian countries to promote inland capture fisheries, conservation of biodiversity and environmental benefit. Current enhancement and conservation of inland fisheries resources covers all kinds of inland water bodies. In total, more than 100 species of fish and other aquatic animals are directly used in the enhancement or direct/indirectly impacted by conservation activities.
Practices of enhancement and conservation of inland fisheries resources are extremely diversified in the region, varying with water environment, species of animals involved and the enhancement objectives. Among the enhancement and conservation approaches, the most common are release of seed, establishment of protected areas/sanctuaries, gear restrictions and closed seasons.
Inland fisheries resource enhancement and conservation activities typically contribute positively to improved livelihood of inland fisher communities and provide ecological and environmental benefits in the region. However, there have been some problems and constraints to enhancement and conservation efforts, which need to be addressed to ensure that enhancements do provide a net benefit.
- Inequality in benefit distribution;
- Lack of informed planning and poor execution of enhancement and conservation programs;
- Potential negative impacts on biodiversity through releasing programmes;
- Lack of standardized protocol for good practice of enhancement and conservation activities;
- Practically applicable methodology for effective impact assessment;
- Lack of effective fisheries management; and
- Need for human resources capacity building.Aquaculture trends in Asia and the Pacific region
In 2008, the Asia and the Pacific region produced 46.6 million tonnes of aquaculture products (total aquaculture production excluding aquatic plants), representing 89 percent of global aquaculture production. In terms of value, the region’s share is slightly less, but is still 79 percent of total value of global aquaculture.
When aquatic plant production is included (the vast majority of global production also originates in Asia and the Pacific region), the region becomes even more dominant, representing 91 percent of global aquaculture production by quantity and 80 percent by value. The growth of aquaculture production in the region has continued to be very strong (15 year trend growth of 11.4 percent between 2006 and 2008). Production growth of APFIC excluding China was 16.1 percent and the production growth of China was 9.4 percent.
There has been considerable change in the top twenty cultured species over past 20 years, but inland waters species (mainly Chinese and Indian carps) still hold the top 7 position. Penaeus vannamei (whiteleg shrimp) and Pangas catfishes nei are among the top ten species now. It is worth noting that the number of high-value species that are carnivorous or dependent on high (animal) protein feed, has increased during the past 15 years. In marine waters, the production is generally dominated by high-value carnivorous/high protein feed dependent species whiteleg shrimp now the top production species in the region at 1.3 million tonnes.
It is worth noting that following an APFIC recommendation in 2006 the quantity of freshwater fishes nei has decreased by almost 27 percent whereas total production has increased indicating improved disaggregation of statistics supplied by member countries.Freshwater carnivorous species or species requiring higher production inputs
Catfish are by far the most widely cultured freshwater species group that are carnivorous or dependent on relatively high protein feed. The total volume exceeds the global production of salmonids. Total production in the Asia-Pacific in 2008 was 2.4 million tonnes which is an increase of 70 percent since 2006
In 2008, snakehead production for the Asia and the Pacific region was 373 080 tonnes. Perch-like fishes from China reached 229 000 tonnes and for mandarin fish (Siniperca chuatsi), the production has been steadily increasing since 1995.
The global production of eel in 2008 was 477 704 tonnes, more than double the production since 2002. Ninety-eight percent of this production was from Asian farms. The accurate reporting of eel production with respect to the actual species produced is now of considerable importance with regard to the CITES listing. The APFIC region should see a significant decline in Anguilla anguilla production (in principle, to zero) from Asian countries which lie outside of its natural range and therefore cannot import elvers from Europe.
Freshwater production of salmonid species in the region has developed rapidly in the last four years and reached 93 628 tonnes in 2008, an increase by 27 percent compared with 2006 Marine and brackish water carnivorous species or species requiring higher production inputs
Japanese culture of amberjack (Seriola) is the leader within this family with production stable at 158 300 tonnes in 2008. Asian Sea Bass/Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) production is increasing, with the regional total reaching 44 841 tonnes in 2008, an increase of 42 percent over 2006. This species has become popular in supermarkets as a whole tablefish. Seabream (Sparidae) production is confined to Japan, China, Taiwan POC, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong SAR. The Japanese production of seabream was 71 000 tonnes in 2008.
Production of grouper has increased rapidly from 22 000 tonnes in 2002 to 78 000 tonnes in 2008. This increase is because China started to report on this species in 2003. Despite the huge popularity of live fish in China and Southeast Asia, only 15 to 20 percent of the amount consumed each year comes from aquaculture,
Culture of salmonids in brackishwater/mariculture current production is 47 000 tonnes. Cobia (Rachycentron canadum) culture has increased rapidly from 13 tonnes in 1996 to almost 25 000 tonnes in 2008. One main reason for the rapid increase is that China is reporting this species separately. Southern bluefin tuna (Scombridae) culture in Australia has emerged as a significant industry for the country over the past ten years reaching 4 000 tonnes in 2002 and has stayed at this level in 2008 (4 500 tonnes). Finfish requiring lower inputs
Often the lower trophic levels of aquaculture do not generate the same amount of attention as the higher level trophic species. The lower trophic levels of aquaculture that require fewer inputs are often the cornerstone of the diet for both the rural and the urban poor.
Carps and barbs Finfish aquaculture production from APFIC region has long been dominated by carps and barbs, a situation which is very unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Total production of carps and barbs from APFIC states in 2008 exceeded 20 million tonnes for the first time in the history. Although production of most of the species in this group generally exhibits an increasing trend, the rate of growth since 2001 for silver carp has started to show signs of slowing down. There are reports that the profitability of production of these species in India and China is declining and farmers are starting to explore the production of alternative higher value species.
Tilapia is the second most important cultured finfish species group after carps and reached 2.13 million tonnes in 2008 with an increase of 23 percent since 2006. This development has been mainly driven by the demand in the international market.Crustaceans
Crustaceans are the aquaculture species group of highest value in the region. Production of crustaceans has been increasing since the mid 1990s despite of a number disease problems encountered. Cultured crustacean production reached 4.45 million tonnes in 2008, with an increase of 19 percent over 2006.
Whiteleg shrimp production in Asia and the Pacific region increased from 2 000 tonnes in 2000 to 1.82 million tonnes in 2008 , total production of freshwater prawns species reached 207 093 tonnes in 2008 with an increase of 13 percent over 2006.
Crab production continued its increasing trend in the past two decades, reached 759 114 tonnes in 2008 with an increase of 25 percent over 2006. Freshwater crayfish production reached 364 619 tonnes in 2008 with an increase of 224 percent over 2006. Lobster is a commodity with very little production volume but very high value. Its production reached 372 tonnes in 2008, more than ten times of the production in 2006.Molluscs
Recent improved breakdown by species of aquaculture production of Chinese molluscs has given a better indication of the proportion of low- and high-value mollusc production. China’s reported production of “molluscs nei” has dropped from 1.3 million in 2000 to below 1 million tonnes in 2006 and down to 780 000 tonnes in 2008, back to the 2004 level (the major drop between 2002 and 2004). Aquatic plants
Aquatic plant production can be divided into two distinct groups, those solely and traditionally used for food purposes and a second group which consists of tropical species mainly processed as a source of commercially valuable biopolymers.
Production of seaweeds for food purposes (principally Japanese kelp culture) doubled from two million tonnes in three years to 1993 and another one million tonnes was added in the next six years. This rapid increase was probably a result of continued expansion of cultured areas in China and since then has stabilized. Production of seaweeds for biopolymers (principally production of Euchema in the Philippines and Indonesia) is far greater than the production of other seaweeds and exceeded 3.4 million tonnes in 2008.