Central Asia countries make improvements in fisheries and aquaculture

BISHKEK (TCA) — With two Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) workshops last week in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus are advancing towards improvements in their fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

One workshop was aimed at disseminating knowledge on restocking- and culture-based fisheries under the auspices of the Central Asian and Caucasus Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CACFish), while the other kicked off a project on fish feed development.

Inland capture fisheries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are recovering from serious production declines that occurred during the 1990s.

“Many of the countries in Central Asia have abundant inland water resources, namely rivers and lakes, which are suitable for freshwater aquaculture,” said FAO aquaculture specialist Atilla Ozdemir. “However, due to the collapse of collectivized farms in the economies in transition, there is currently low production of fish in this region and low productivity of farms.”

These concerns led to the establishment in late 2008 of CACFish, a regional fisheries management organization under FAO that aims to promote the development, conservation, sound management and utilization of living aquatic resources, as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture.

A regional workshop held 11–13 June widened knowledge of culture-based fisheries among the five CACfish member countries and five observer countries. The programme consisted of expert presentations on international good practices and exchanges of experiences regarding the main criteria of fish stocking and culture-based fisheries. Topics included criteria for the selection of appropriate species, the basics of inland fisheries enhancement, restocking and recovery of sturgeon populations, and others.

“Member and observer countries presented their national assessments to inform FAO and the other participants on the current situation of stocking, restocking and culture-based fisheries in the country,” said Ramazan Celebi, an FAO fisheries specialist.

Last week also marked the start of an FAO project advising fish farmers and authorities on fish feed development in Central Asia. It is a priority for this region, discussed and identified during one of the CACfish meeting sessions.

During the four-day workshop, which ended on 15 June, participants met representatives of public institutions and universities. Similar to the other workshop, they also visited a newly constructed feed manufacturing plant, carp and sturgeon farms, and small-scale feed manufacturers.