| Aquaculture and schistosomiasis |
Inland aquaculture has been vastly underdeveloped in the tropics and subtropics and now there are high hopes for its future expansion to benefit farmers and consumers of aquatic products. The prospects of generating food and profit from well-managed waters are exciting and responsive to the normal developmental trends of high population growth, overstretched natural resources, and environmental degradation. There are, however, serious biotechnical, socioeconomic, and environmental constraints to aquaculture development. Aquaculture, like agriculture, has environmental costs and risks, including the possibility of increased transmission of waterborne diseases to those who work on fish farms and to others who use, or live near, the waters used for, or influenced by, aquaculture. Where fishponds and associated watercourses provide good habitats for the aquatic snail intermediate hosts of schistosomes, the risks of increased transmission can be great, especially in Africa.
Therefore, there is a need for increased interaction among researchers working in support of aquaculture development and among those working in public health, disease control, sanitation, and environmental conservation. These proceedings describe an attempt at such interaction by the juxtaposition of researchers in aquaculture and schistosomiasis in a network meeting that provided an opportunity for presentations, discussion, and interaction of mutual benefit to the attendees.
The aquaculture contributions show the diversity of current research in progress. This reflects the rather backward status of aquaculture science compared with agricultural science. Aquaculturists have yet to develop a well-founded science akin to agronomy and will need many years to build that science from a combination of disciplinary, specific problem-oriented, and broader systems research, including intersectoral studies with such groups as agriculturalists and foresters. The contributions of schistosomiasis research are also wide ranging and reflect the many imaginative approaches toward lessening or eliminating its continuing toll on the human population.
It is hoped that these papers and the accompanying recommendations on future work and research priorities will be seen as modest but useful steps toward supporting the safe and sustainable expansion of aquaculture in developing countries and the effective control of schistosomiasis. Much more research is needed and this will require an increased commitment of resources.
The International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), as the newest center to be accepted for membership in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), welcomed the opportunity to host this network meeting and looks forward to being of further service to assist similar efforts involving researchers for development who have diverse backgrounds but work toward interdependent objectives.
Roger S.V. Pullin
Director, Aquaculture Program