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Introduction - PD/A CRSP 15th Annual Technical Report

I. Introduction

The current reporting period, 1 August 1996 through 31 July 1997, is the first year of operation under the PD/A CRSP Continuation Plan 1996-2001 and of the CRSPs Eighth Work Plan. This report is a collection of research papers summarizing activities described in the Eighth Work Plan and its predecessor, the Interim Work Plan. In addition, it contains several Special Topics research reports. The companion to this volume is the Fifteenth Annual Administrative Report which highlights program management and research support activities, and includes summaries of program history, staff, finances, and publications. It also contains the abstracts of all technical reports included in this volume.

Historical Overview

The PD/A CRSP was initiated formally on 1 September 1982 as a Title XII program under the International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1975. Since its inception, the goal of the CRSP has been to improve the efficiency of pond production systems through sustainable aquaculture. The strategy adopted by the CRSP in pursuit of this goal has involved the development of a comprehensive research agenda aimed at understanding and improving the efficiency of pond culture systems. The centerpiece of this strategy was the Global Experiment.

The Global Experiment was intended as a comparative study of aquaculture pond dynamicsone that would begin to explain how and why ponds at different geographic locations function differently, and how the management of those ponds might be adapted to different sets of environmental conditions to optimize production. Hence, a common set of experiments was implemented globally, following a standardized experimental protocol at a number of research sites around the world. Over the years, the specific objectives of each Global Experiment, conducted once during each biennial work plan, were modified based on previous research results and current information needs, while continuing to further investigate the original charge.

As CRSP research progressed through the 1980s, questions surfaced that differed from site to site and would need to be addressed with specific production optimization experiments. This family of experiments, separate from the standardized Global Experiment, yet performed concurrently with it, also had global implications. After the first few years of production research, the need for economic analyses of pond aquaculture systems became apparent. Previous research had relied on many, often tenuous, assumptions about the dynamic mechanisms regulating pond productivity and pointed to the inadequacy of the existing database. To find out if contemporary pond management practices were in fact the most efficient, CRSP researchers evaluated production methods. An extensive comparison of the socioeconomic dimensions of CRSP production techniques among sites is helping CRSP researchers to understand the impacts of socioeconomic influences on their work. A third research question developed out of the collaboration with Honduran shrimp farmers and led to the investigation of the environmental effects of effluents on receiving waters.

CRSP participants also decided that the comprehensive analysis and interpretation of global data would be greatly enhanced through the formation of an independent team of researchers who could devote their efforts to this type of analysis. This task force was formally established in 1986 as the Data Analysis and Synthesis Team (DAST). The charge of the DAST is to systematically analyze pond processes and to develop computer models that reflect our growing understanding of pond systems. The DAST members are more than end-users of the database; rather, they participate actively in the design process of the next cycle of Global Experiments.

The multitude of the data collected by the Global Experiment and other investigations are available through the PD/A CRSP Central Database, which is the largest database containing standardized data on warmwater aquaculture. To facilitate information dissemination the Central Database is now electronically accessible at two locations on the
Worldwide Web: the PD/A CRSP Internet Web Site (http://osu.orst.edu/dept/crsp/homepage.html) and the Oregon State University (OSU) Bioresource Engineering Web Site (http://biosys.bre.orst.edu/crspDB).

Current Research Program

The Continuation Plan 1996-2001 listed seven constraints to aquacultural development: inefficient and inconsistent aquacultural productivity, negative environmental effects resulting from aquaculture operations, a poor understanding of social and economic factors, insufficient human capacity development, poor or outdated information management, limited networking capacities, and political and structural inadequacies. The PD/A CRSP developed an integrated approach to address these constraints
by constructing a program based on two building blocks: production systems research and capacity building research support activities. Production systems research addresses the first three constraints through the following research areas: production optimization, environmental effects, and social and economic aspects. Research support activities respond to the fourth through sixth constraint through education development, information management, and networking which are reported in the Fifteenth Annual Administrative Report. The seventh constraint, political and structural inadequacies, can only be indirectly addressed by a research program such as the CRSP.

Research areas are further subdivided into specific research themes. Research areas and their respective themes are listed here: