Reducing rural poverty and improving lives through sustainable aquaculture: AQD's 40-year saga of mustering strength and expertise for technology development
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Recognizing the need to promote fisheries development for improving the economies of Southeast Asian countries, the Second Ministerial Conference for the Economic Development of Southeast Asia held in Manila, Philippines in April 1967, agreed to establish the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) based on the recommendations from the First Ministerial Conference for the Economic Development of Southeast Asia in Tokyo, Japan in April 1966 and the subsequent Conference on Agricultural Development in Southeast Asia organized in Tokyo, Japan in December 1966. As soon as the necessary documentations were completed, signing of the Agreement Establishing SEAFDEC took place in Bangkok, Thailand on 28 December 1967 by the Governments of Japan, Malaysia, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Republic of Vietnam, while the establishment of the Marine Fisheries Training Department in Thailand and Marine Fisheries Research Department in Singapore, under the SEAFDEC umbrella was also finalized. Two years later during its Second Meeting in Singapore in March 1969, the SEAFDEC Council agreed in principle, to establish a new SEAFDEC department to carry out research and development in the field of aquaculture, and organized a study group to identify the appropriate site of the department as well as to draft its plan of operation and working program. During the Fourth Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council in Manila, Philippines on 18-22 January 1971, then Philippine Secretary for Agriculture and Natural Resources Arturo R. Tanco, Jr. informed the SEAFDEC Council that the Philippines had entered into a bilateral agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the implementation of an aquaculture project in the Philippines. It was also during that same Meeting that Secretary Tanco invited the Council to consider incorporating the said aquaculture project into the activities of the proposed new SEAFDEC department to avoid duplication of efforts, and requested the Council to also consider the establishment of such department in the Philippines. Therefore, having considered the position paper of the Philippine Government, the Council agreed in principle, to establish the SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department in the Philippines. Based on results of the series of surveys conducted by a team of Japanese and Filipino aquaculture experts, and after securing the commitments of the Governments of Japan and the Philippines to support the operations of the new department, the SEAFDEC Council at its Sixth Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 3-7 July 1973, agreed to formally establish the Aquaculture Department in Iloilo, Philippines, with the main function of carrying out research, training and extension activities in fish culture, and the rest is history. Now, SEAFDEC has four existing Departments: (Marine Fisheries) Training Department (TD) in Thailand, Marine Fisheries Research Department (MFRD) in Singapore, Aquaculture Department (AQD) in the Philippines, and Marine Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (MFRDMD) in Malaysia. A new department, the Inland Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (IFRDMD) is expected to be formally established very soon in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Member Countries of SEAFDEC now include all the ASEAN member states, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, plus Japan.