Friday, July 29, 2011

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Protect region’s aquaculture

  • Friday, July 29, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the commitment of the Asian political leadership is essential to collectively overcome the challenges faced by the fisheries and aquaculture industry at present. President Rajapaksa was delivering the keynote address at the Asian Regional Ministerial Meeting on Aquaculture for Food Security, Nutrition and Economic Development yesterday at the Hilton Hotel, Colombo.

    The President inaugurated the meeting which, was attended by over 250 representatives from 18 countries. The representatives included key fisheries policy makers and planners in the South east Asia-Pacific Region .who will discuss the merits of regional aquaculture and promotion.

    The meeting will conclude today. Fisheries Ministers from major fishing nations, including Thailand, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Laos, China, Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand are participating in the meeting.

    Addressing the gathering, President Rajapaksa said that, many policy initiatives, such as, strong trading standards, removing non-tariff barriers and eliminating unfair trading practices are imperative for the welfare of our fishing community. The President elaborated how important it was to improve our fish production through sustainable methods while keeping our water resources clean.

    “We often read today of how fish is our last wild food and that our oceans are being picked clean. We learn of factory trawlers that scrape the ocean floor threatening the livelihoods of fishing communities in countries and regions. These trawlers are commercial operations while the small time fisherman go out fishing as a means of day to day living. This meeting is most timely because the natural habitat of fish is being gravely threatened and aquaculture development is of special importance”, he further conceded.

    “Methods that can improve sustainability are necessary because their absence can have adverse effects on small farmers and fishers. These need to be tackled with speed and great sensitivity before vulnerable communities that depend on fishing and fish farming are harmed”, he added.President Rajapaksa also conceded that the human and material resources required to achieve these “great goals” in fisheries and aquaculture are easily available.

    But the challenge is to put these resources together that are within different borders and institutions of individual states and territories,” the President noted. Elaborating on the issue of compliance with various international trading standards that is a serious problem faced by developing countries and small scale farmers, the President stressed the pressing need to address this situation politically.

    He said the best results come when farmers, especially, the small holders are empowered technologically and politically. “It is when they have both the means and the voice. With greater awareness and empowerment, higher standards and good farming practice, they will not be driven out of business”, he stressed.

    The Ministerial Meeting intends to work towards coordinating regional activities and improving regional cooperation in aquaculture, and thus contributing to the aquaculture development in the countries in the Asian region. The meeting will conclude with the signing of what is called the ‘Colombo Declaration’ which will be the criteria for development of the aquaculture industry in the South Asian region. The policy makers will facilitate the Colombo Declaration which will provide guidelines for initiatives aimed at developing aquaculture industry in the region.

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