National priorities and aquaculture development
Although aquaculture planning has necessarily to be based on the priorities and existence of conditions where aquaculture can make a significant contribution, in the majority of countries increased food production and the attainment of self-sufficiency will form an integral part of economic development policy. As mentioned earlier, integrated rural development, which could include rural aquaculture, will also have high priority in many countries. In either case and, for that matter, in any form of aquaculture planning, the first step should be an examination of the state and contribution of capture fisheries and projected future production against expected demand. A global estimate of supply. Similar estimates may be made on a national basis to identify in as precise a manner as possible the role of aquaculture in national fishery production. For various reasons it will be preferable to harmonize aquaculture production within the framework of overall fishery production and prevent unnecessary competition in the market place. This does not mean that aquaculture should not take advantage of its inherent strengths of product quality and regularity of supplies. Production can be planned within the limits of demand, so that both sectors will have fair markets. It will also be desirable to select species for which there are no capture fisheries or the landings of which are insufficient to meet consumer demand.
One other means of harmonizing aquaculture development with capture fisheries is by the provision of opportunities for part-time or full-time employment to excess fishermen. Coastal fisheries in many countries are presently over-exploited and the small-scale fishermen are often unable to make a living because of dwindling catches and the high cost of fishing. By rehabilitating excess fisher-men in aquaculture projects, fishing pressure in coastal waters can be reduced and catch per unit of effort increased, to make fishing more profitable.
Based on the estimates of current and future capture fisheries production and the projections of demand for domestic consumption and export, the aquaculture production needed to fill the gaps in demand and supply can be determined. This, of course, will only show in general terms what is likely to be absorbed in the market, as assessed largely on the basis of existing conditions. In aquaculture, market-oriented production is the general practice, unlike the production-oriented marketing in capture fisheries. So there is a need to obtain basic information on consumer preferences and demand, both within the country and in export markets.
There may also be circumstances in which less acceptable products may have to be produced to meet national priorities, such as a cheaply produced fish for feeding needy sections of the population, supported by strong promotional activities. This option should also be taken into account, where appropriate, in setting targets of production.
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