Training and Research on physiological constraints in aquaculture in the Mekong

Start date
January 1, 2007
End date
December 31, 2010
Project code
207-AU
Countries
Total grant
4,471,066
Contact person
Mark Bayley
Description

The Mekong Delta (MD) covers approx 12% of Vietnam, but accounts for more than half of the total agricultural production and for more than 60% of its fish production. Aquaculture has become a huge industry of importance both for the domestic market but also as the producer of one of Vietnams financially biggest exports. Growth in production has been strongly associated with an increase in the area devoted to aquaculture in the lower Mekong delta, rather than increased efficiency and pressures on the environment and on advisory personnel continue to increase. At present the aquaculture production systems utilized in the MD are low tech / low productivity. There is therefore a huge potential for increasing productivity whilst mitigating environmental impact. This requires the training of a new generation of knowledgeable aquaculture advisors; research to fill the knowledge gap on the physiological requirements of the species involved and finally the development of aquaculture systems that utilize the newly gained physiological insight in the production process. The aim of this project was to build up a capacity for research on relevant basic physiological aspects of economically important local species and to develop training courses in physiology for aquaculture advisors. The project has made several important findings likely to have far-reaching impact on the aquaculture industry and for relevant policy makers: 1. 5 of the 6 investigated freshwater species have been shown to be able to grow well in brackish water. 2. The respiratory physiology of the air-breathing pangasius fish indicates that significant productivity improvements can be attained by controlled oxygenation of production water. 3. Telemetry studies with pangasius indicate that they remain near the surface of their 4 m deep ponds. 20 to 25 MSc level advisors a year are currently being trained in the Mekong delta on courses developed from this project.