Aquaculture in Laos
Laos is a developing country whose natural border is formed by the “Mekong”, 4800 km long, which crosses no less than 6 countries, rich in more than 1,400 species of fish, shows the challenge of domesticating of some native species with strong economic potential to meet the nutritional needs of the population.
- Contexts and studies
The RDP Laos is a landlocked country with a population of 6.9 million person, 80% of them live depended on land resources. The RDP Laos is surrounded by powerful neighbors with strong economic growth rates – China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the West – Laos is part of the group of least developed countries “landlocked and least developed countries” (LLDC). It ranks 141 out of 177 in the UNDP’s Human Development Index.
Laotians living along the Mekong River, the vital artery of the country, where the plains suitable for rice cultivation are, represent barely half of the population, but they are the ones who set the political tone, social and economic.
2. The fishing sector
The Mekong River and its tributaries are the main aquatic resource, providing over 60% of all fisheries. The Mekong has its source in the Himalayas. He draws the border between Laos and Myanmar before sinking inland in Laos, to further south a part of the border with Thailand. The Mekong leaves Laos after a series of waterfalls, it crosses Cambodia and flood the Tonle Sap Lake, before entering Vietnam and finally throwing itself into the South China Sea.
The Mekong travels more than 4800 kilometers from its source to its delta, making it one of the longest rivers in the world. Its source in the Himalayan Mountains represents only 16% of its flow: hundreds of tributaries join it all along its way to the sea. It is a vital space for fish and an important food source for the whole region. It is a river marked by a very high flow during the flood season (the 3rd river in the world in terms of maximum flow) and a flood / flow rate ratio in low water of 50 (the highest ratio in the world). It is a river with a very large floodplain; it is in the wetlands that most of the fishing is done.
The main fishing sites are in southern Laos, Champasak province and at the border of Laos and Cambodia where there is no regulation. The rice fields during the monsoon period naturally provide small species that constitute another resource for capture fisheries, this fishery is composed of crabs, snails, shrimps, fish, frogs, insects … The catches from the hydro reservoirs are also landed, although their quantity is generally low, the current policy of these deductions is rather to the stocking (there is also relatively regulated fishing on the lakes which are poisoned).
Aquaculture productivity in Laos remains low mainly because of the lack of fingerlings, a population with low density, poor road infrastructure between villages and also a lack of skills of fish farmers in breeding techniques limits the spread of fish information. Laos is located between three countries that are dynamic in terms of aquaculture (Thailand, Vietnam and China which both have an opening to the sea) Laos cannot compete in terms of aquaculture production and whose activity is relatively recent (year 50). The sector has developed initially through the assistance of USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and Japan for the development of small-scale aquaculture farms across the country, then in the 1970s hatcheries were built, with the assistance of Vietnam and China. Domestic production remained very small.
Aquaculture in Laos is essentially based on exotic fish (Oreochromis niloticus, Sarotherodon mossambicus, Chinese carp, common, Indian, clarias ….), and a small part on native species of the Mekong. Several projects are under development, such as JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), which aims to develop similar pond culture techniques for exotic and indigenous species. The MRC (Mekong River Commission) is working in the field to maintain a high biodiversity of native species present in the Mekong, the government estimated in 1996 to 38,000 t the total production of fish and 42,800 t in 1998 on this total, 33% corresponded to the aquaculture component and the rest of the catches in the Mekong, its tributaries and reservoirs (MAF, 1999).
Aquaculture production is based on ponds, about 6000 hectares and 416 000 hectares for rice which is also important in aquaculture production (rice-fish culture), or for the production of a fish feed. Fishing and fish production contribute to 13% of GDP. (* Freshwater Aquaculture in the Lower Mekong Basin).
However the latest studies done by the M.R.C. and FAO indicate that this does not correspond to the reality based on an estimated consumption of 12 kg per person corresponds to 60 000 t / year. This does not include the consumption of other amphibian organisms, the export of a certain quantity of fish to neighboring countries which brings production to 100,000 t, almost 30% higher than official production. (LaRReC – Living Aquatic Resources Research Center, 2000).
Census work is needed (GIS), on the private sector which has not yet begun to produce significant quantities of fry, despite the existence of artisanal production in some areas one of the largest aquaculture farm in Laos, located in Vientiane (covering an area of 12 hectares), it produced 60 tons of fish and 5 million fry annually, it proposed no less than 12 species trying to reproduce native species, while the few private fish farms visited. , base their production on Tilapia and Clarias.
Aquaculture, the design of a hatchery, the rearing, feeding has a very important part, it is one of the pillars of the domestication as we will see it with different species of fish of the Mekong. In a country that wants to give priority to native species, there are therefore opportunities to match the projects underway in this country that is Laos.
To follow studies and reproduction of Mekong fish