In the Asia Pacific region, seafood is vital in the diet and culture of rural and coastal populations. In recent years, some Asian economies have shifted from being importers to becoming net exporters of seafood due to growth in aquaculture industries.
Worldwide aquaculture industries are the fastest growing food production sector. In Australia, the aquaculture industry has trebled over the past 10 years and is now worth more than $700 million. Research into developing sustainable use and best management practices is essential to prevent the negative impact of aquaculture industries on the environment. Impacts include destruction of coastal vegetation (especially mangroves), effluent runoff, salinisation of the water supply and the spread of disease into adjacent natural populations.
AIMS has a long history of working in the Asia Pacific to encourage and support the development of sustainable industries. In Vietnam's Ca Mau Province aquaculture farm trials showed that production could be improved by simple, low-cost changes to farm and pond designs, and improved pond management.
In China, studies of sediment transport and nutrient cycling were used to create simple methods to estimate sustainable production levels for mangrove harvesting. Sea cage aquaculture is a rapidly expanding industry in the region and AIMS is collaborating with the Indonesian government and other research agencies to produce guidelines for building sustainable cage fish farms in Indonesia (the world's second largest aquaculture producer), Australia and other tropical regions.