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CRSP Research Program Background

III. CRSP Research Program Background

At its inception, the Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture CRSP had a single, main theme-that of a common set of experiments to be implemented globally, following a standard experimental protocol. The Global Experiment, as it came to be called, was intended to facilitate comparative studies of aquaculture pond dynamics; such studies would help us begin to understand how and why ponds at different geographic locations function differently, and how the management of aquaculture ponds might be fine-tuned or adapted to different sets of environmental conditions to optimize production.

As CRSP research progressed, it became apparent that there were important additional needs to be addressed. To meet these additional needs, research components were added, so that in the past few years the main core of the program has included three components:

This main core of CRSP activities has been augmented by supplemental activities that are associated with the main components and complement them in unique ways. These supplemental activities have included socioeconomic studies, soil-water interactions research, the development of simple new techniques for the evaluation of pond conditions, and studies to develop improved techniques for fish reproduction.

The CRSP Research Program

The long-range goal of the CRSP is to increase the efficiency of pond culture systems. This goal has the benefits not only of increasing the availability of animal protein in less-developed countries, but also of improving the economic efficiency of aquacultural production in any country, including the U.S. A technical plan consistent with this goal was developed under a planning study funded by USAID in 1981. Under this planning study, the literature on state-of-the-art pond culture was reviewed and synthesized, resulting in the publication of the first edition of Principles and Practices of Pond Aquaculture, and overseas sites were surveyed to determine research needs and the potential for the establishment of research projects.

The technical work plan that evolved from the planning study involved the establishment of research projects at seven sites in six countries. Two brackish water and five freshwater research projects were begun at sites in Central America (Panama and Honduras), Africa (Rwanda), and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines) in 1983. All of the sites were within a zone 15 degrees north or south of the equator and represented the three major tropical regions where advances in pond aquaculture would be most beneficial and most apt to succeed. Although subsequent changes (primarily in response to funding constraints) in the CRSP program required that research be continued only at the sites in Thailand, Rwanda, and Honduras, those three major regions have continued to be represented. Since 1991 the CRSP program has been expanded by the initiation of a sub-project in the Philippines and the beginning of a completely new project in Egypt. The research conducted in Egypt greatly increased the scope of the program by adding an arid site to the program, which had previously included sites only in relatively humid areas. In 1993, research in brackish water environments was resumed with the addition of a coastal site in Honduras.

CRSP Work Plans

A Technical Committee has had the responsibility for developing technical work plans throughout the CRSPs history. The first three CRSP Work Plans, outlining annual research programs that were almost exclusively global in nature, covered activities from 1 September 1984 through 31 August 1987. The First Work Plan specified a standard procedure for the preparation and stocking of ponds, and the concept of a standard protocol for research at all sites has been maintained throughout the program. These standards have evolved into the CRSP's Handbook of Analytical Methods, which was completed and distributed to participants in 1992.

In response to the recommendations of the External Evaluation Panel during the first triennial review, work plans beginning with the Fourth Work Plan have been developed on a biennial basis to allow more time for the completion and evaluation of experiments before planning new ones. This change in the planning procedure is the logical outcome of the need to test hypotheses that develop directly from the results of previous CRSP experiments. Another significant change that began with the Fourth Work Plan is that site-specific studies have also been included. Although the global aspects of CRSP research are maintained by conducting similar experiments (referred to as the Global Experiment) at the various sites and by conducting these experiments in a standardized manner, other experiments are adjusted to more directly address the needs of aquaculture producers in the country or region in which the research is taking place.

The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Work Plans covered research conducted in two-year periods from 1987 through 1994. This reporting period constitutes the first year of activities conducted under the Seventh Work Plan, but it also includes some activities conducted under the Sixth Work Plan. During this reporting period, the Continuation Plan for the PD/A CRSP was the focus of efforts by the Technical Committee and the Management Office.