Fish experts call for proactive approach to $6 billion problem
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By Development Communication Section
BANGKOK, Thailand – Representatives of ASEAN member states called for proactive approaches to address diseases in farmed aquatic animals that is costing the region almost six billion dollars annually.
“Disease is the number one issue in limiting yield, reducing profit and preventing investment,” said Dr. Melba Reantaso, an aquaculture officer from Food and Agriculture Organization, during a recent consultative workshop held to examine the ASEAN region’s readiness and response system for aquatic diseases.
Fish health experts and industry representatives from around Southeast Asia agreed that setting up biosecurity systems in farms and hatcheries are more cost-effective and better than having to find solutions once diseases hit.
“Emergency preparedness is the ability to respond effectively and in a timely fashion to disease emergencies and early warning is having advance knowledge of high risk diseases likely to threaten biosecurity,” Dr. Reantaso added.
In the workshop, country representatives and members of the private sector identified workable ways to establish a functional and effective engagement on emergency preparedness and response system in each country.
“Aquatic animal disease outbreaks are likely to continue and there will be more new threats to come,” said Dr. Eduardo Leaño, a coordinator from the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) who reviewed the history and impact of transboundary diseases on ASEAN aquaculture.
According to Dr. Reantaso, emergent diseases in aquaculture are mainly driven by trading of live animals and products, limited stakeholder knowledge on pathogens and their hosts, poor aquatic management and health control, and changes in the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Dr. Leaño suggested to have a collaborative approach between research, government and the industry in coming up with a system on preventing and responding to aquatic diseases.
Lack of collaboration was the main gap identified during the workshop. Lack of funding and resources and poor information sharing and seeking efforts were other identified gaps.
The ASEAN Regional Technical Consultation on Aquatic Emergency Preparedness and Response Systems for Effective Management of Transboundary Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia was held last 20-22 August 2018. It was organized by the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center together with NACA and Department of Fisheries-Thailand with funding from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.
A new feed formulation that hopes to lower the cost of fish farming and make fish more affordable to the masses kicked off with the field-testing of the low-cost feed at the Igang Marine Station of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center.
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