A new electronic knowledge base for intensified aquatic resource management, incorporating CAB International’s innovative ‘Compendium’ technology.
Increasing pressure on wild capture fisheries from rising global demand for fish and other aquatic resources has resulted in moves to promote the potential of aquaculture, or fish farming. Aquaculture has the potential to improve socio-economic conditions and environmental sustainability, both in coastal settings and through preservation of wild fisheries and their associated ecosystems. Asia produced more than 90 per cent of all global aquaculture products as well as providing an important source of food security and dietary protein.
Despite this aquaculture is limited by a lack of knowledge and information. This is particularly the case in the areas of environmental management and sustainability. Knowledge about aquaculture in rural settings is also limited, including from a systems viewpoint. A recent study in Thailand where extension materials were disseminated after development through farmer participatory approaches led to significant yield increases.
A substantial research knowledge base for rural aquaculture has been developed over the past few years. This knowledge suggests a yield gap between current and potential levels is real for smallholders. Poor knowledge about many areas of aquaculture is the reason, yet much of this knowledge is contained within the research knowledge base. CABI’s Compendium Technology can be used to organise and present this knowledge to extension networks to help increase information and reduce the existing yield gap.
The Project is building the ‘Aquaculture Compendium’ (AC), based on the innovative ‘Compendium Technology’ for knowledge management that has been developed by CAB International (CABI). Aquaculture has great potential to improve socioeconomic conditions and environmental sustainability worldwide, but realization of this potential is severely hampered by a lack of relevant knowledge that can be applied to address these goals. The AC is being built to address these needs, and ultimately to contribute towards improving the sustainable livelihoods of people dependent on aquatic resources.
Nature of the Project:
CABI formulated the AC concept over a two-year period with the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling (UK), the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), and many others in both the developing and developed worlds. Australian institutions involved include ACIAR, Deakin University and Biosecurity Australia. An AC Inception Workshop, funded by ACIAR, was held in October 2002. The AC Development Project was formally initiated in July 2003. Development costs are being co-financed by Members of a Development Consortium, drawn from the public and private sectors, each of which makes a financial contribution and shares in oversight of the Project and the benefits of Project outputs. ACIAR is a founder Member of the Consortium.
Project activities involve:
designing, building, and testing the AC;
disseminating the AC on the Internet and on CD-ROM;
training users of the AC; and
setting up mechanisms aiming to ensure the sustainability of the AC through the market.
Key activities and results during the year under review:
In line with Project Output 1 (‘Initiate and plan detail of Project aiming to meet the expressed needs of user communities for a new knowledge base for aquaculture’), detailed working plans were drawn up, in preparation for activities associated with Output 2: ‘Design AC system and build AC information content, with input from users.’
Good progress has been made during the year in compiling the AC and towards achieving key deliverables of Project Output 2, viz. AC alpha test (demonstrator) and beta test modules.
Main developments of the reporting year include:
Collaborative relationships have been developed with some 60 organizations worldwide;
Detailed lists of planned coverage have been drawn up in consultation with experts;
Datasheet templates have been designed for new materials to be commissioned from authors;
Commissioning of new content is well underway;
A programme is underway to collect case studies to document real-world practice in aquaculture in Bangladesh and Vietnam. In this programme, CABI, in coordination with partners, is sourcing materials from the region through a series of workshops. Some outputs from this process have already been collated;
A software system is being built to manage and edit content. Alpha-test versions of the web interface are under development. New and improved content management systems are being developed to index full-text documents;
Permissions are being sought to republish existing information that has appeared in print or electronic form elsewhere, including reviews, databases, and extension and teaching materials;
Work has started to edit content received in-house;
Following recruitment activities during the reporting period, two new Project staff (editor and project assistant) joined on 1 July 2004.
Project Outputs and Outcomes Summary
The Project has built the ‘Aquaculture Compendium’ (www.cabicompendium.org/ac/), based on the innovative ‘Compendium Technology’ for knowledge management that has been developed by CAB International (CABI).
Published in May 2006, the Aquaculture Compendium provides information on:
Cultured species production - detailed information on over 300 cultured aquatic species, including finfish, crustacea, molluscs, algae and live feeds.
Diseases - detailed information on over 100 aquatic diseases and disorders and summary information on 200 others.
Issues in aquaculture - Overview topics on production systems and issues in aquaculture; An electronic library of specially commissioned and previously published information containing approximately 1000 articles from internationally respected sources.
The Compendium also includes:
A bibliographic database with over 150,000 records; over 1500 images to allow for easy identification and teaching; Geographic Information System software to display global and regional maps from underlying geographic databases; Interactive glossary, with more than 60,000 definitions; Electronic notepads for keeping personal notes or sharing notes over a network.
The Aquaculture Compendium has been designed to help a wide spectrum of individuals, from policy makers and researchers to teachers and farmers, by providing access to information about finfish, crustaceans, molluscs and other commonly cultured aquatic species; helping users to understand aquaculture in its broader context, helping address issues of livelihoods, natural resources and environment, biodiversity, trade, food production and safety; determine solutions for identifying, solving and preventing health problems in different production systems; identify trends in aquaculture worldwide; assess the likely impact of aquatic invasive species; recognize good practice through examination of detailed case studies from around the world; promote the sustainable development of aquatic resources; and improve capacity to produce aquaculture educational material sustainably.
Communication and Dissemination Activities
The Aquaculture Compendium development was supported by a global Consortium that incuded ACIAR along with other development assistance agencies, technical institutions and private-sector companies. They all have an inherent interest in using the Aquaculture Compendium and in fostering its broadest possible distribution. The Consortium are being encouraged to promote it within their institutions and more widely to their stakeholders.
Information about the Aquaculture Compendium is prominently displayed on the CABI Compendia website at www.cabicompendium.org (and www.cabicompendium.org/ac), and is included in the CABI catalogue of products at www.cabi-publishing.org/AtoZ.asp
To assist in this promotion and further marketing, a glossy leaflet has been produced and widely disseminated. A series of targetted mailings has taken place, and these include: members of the Aquaculture Association of Canada; participants at 2nd International Symposium on Cage Aquaculture, China; the Asian Fisheries Society. An announcement of the publication of the AC was made in Aquaculture Health International and promotional material will be available at the Australian Fish Biology Conference in Tasmania, August 2006. A full-page description on the AC is also included in CABI’s promotional leaflet “Aquaculture and Fisheries - Books & Compendium”.
The World Aquaculture Society is a partner in the Aquaculture Compendium development and it has facilitated presentations by CABI staff at its international meetings in Salvador, Brazil; Hawaii; and Florence, Italy - where the Aquaculture Compendium was officially launched. At Florence the Aquaculture Compendium leaflet was included in the conference materials’ packs of some 3000 delegates. CABI also took an exhibition stand to promote the Aquaculture Compendium.
Presentations on the Aquaculture Compendium were also made at Australasian Aquaculture 2004 and will be made at the equivalent conference in 2006.
As a result of CABI’s efforts to attract funding for the development of the Aquaculture Compendium, contact has been made with more than one hundred organisations worldwide. The relationships with the majority of these is being maintained and followed up now that the Aquaculture Compendium has been published.
Outreach activities are about to commence in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to carry out training and dissemination activities utilising the Aquaculture Compendium in Bangladesh and Tanzania. This will specifically look at developing ‘train the trainer’ events and will include outreach field group activities.
Magazine articles on the project:
Aquaculture News 2004, Number 30. www.aquaculture.stir.ac.uk/AquaNews/index30.htm
ACIAR Partners Magazine Winter Edition 2006. www.aciar.gov.au/web.nsf/att/ACIA-6RC9F7/$file/Partners%20Winter%20Edition%202006%20-%20Fishing%20for%20information.pdf
See entry above for Annual and Final Report.