News last update:6 Aug 2012

Aquaculture boom comes with challenges

The use of melamine contaminated feed on some US fish farms addresses the challenges facing the booming aquaculture sector. This issue among others will be discussed during a three day aquaculture conference organised by FAO.

The melamine scare and the more recently incidence of blacklisted antibiotics in some imported catfish illustrate the importance of ensuring product safety in fish farming-the most rapidly growing food production sector for over a decade now-according to Lahsen Ababouch, a fish product safety expert with FAO.
"Today's global chain of fish production and supply is extremely complicated," says Ababouch. "With nearly half of all fish eaten today coming from farms, and some 12 million people dependent on fish farming for their daily income, ensuring that farmed fish products are safe to eat and of the highest possible quality is crucial."

FAO conference
Safety and quality over the entire length of the fish supply chain is one of the main issues to be discussed this week at a three-day aquaculture trade conference in Qindao, China organized by FAO and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (Qingdao, 29-31 May). It will include sessions on managing fish health at the farm level, the increasingly complex international regulatory frameworks governing aquaculture imports, and how to establish fair traceability and labelling systems to let retailers and consumers know a fish product's provenance.

A number of other issues will be discussed as well, such as the globalization of the world fish supply chain, market trends contributing to aquaculture's ongoing boom, environmental and sustainability issues, and growing competition between aquaculture, poultry farming and livestock for fish oil used in feed.

44% of all fish eaten comes from farms
The amount of fish supplied by farming has skyrocketed in recent years, says Rohana Subasinghe, an aquaculture specialist with FAO. In 1980 just 9% of the fish consumed by human beings came from aquaculture. Today 44% does, he noted.
FAO believes that responsible aquaculture is key to meeting the world's growing demand for fish and reducing pressure on stocks in the wild.

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