By Oluchi Chibuzor
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has signed a €40 million, five-year programme (FISH4ACP), with the European Union (EU) to boost the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Group of states (ACP).
FISH4ACP is an innovative EU-funded programme, devised with ACP. It is to be implemented by the FAO. It would invest in value chains to stimulate inclusive growth, bolster food security and minimise impact on the marine environment.
In Africa, the programme will support both aquaculture and fisheries value chains. They include inland and marine fisheries, involving catfish, small pelagics, oyster, shrimp and tilapia value chains from Nigeria to Zimbabwe, and from Lake Tanganyika to São Tomé and Príncipe and the continent’s Atlantic shores.
The signing, which took place in Oslo, Norway, at the “Our Ocean 2019” conference, had representatives from governments, business, civil society and research institutions in attendance at the global event to promote action for a clean, healthy and productive ocean.
Welcoming the initiative, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said, “The focus on all three aspects of sustainability – the economic, the environmental and the social – sets this programme apart.
“It will enable us to strike a balance between production and protection, to contribute towards fair income distribution; to promote decent working conditions, sound fisheries management and social inclusiveness; and to champion sustainable aquaculture practices.”
On his part, the FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said: “We welcome this new, comprehensive value chain approach to the development of fisheries and aquaculture that takes into account all players, at all stages – from net to plate. This is an innovative approach that will boost economic returns and social equity, and reduce negative impacts on the marine environment.”
FISH4ACP is to kick off in early 2020 with value chain assessments aimed at pinpointing the main challenges in each of the value chains and helping them explore new markets, reduce waste and losses, improve fishers’ working conditions and manage fish stocks at sustainable levels.
Capture fishery production in ACP countries nearly doubled from 4.6 million tonnes in 1990 to 8.5 million tonnes in 2016. Also, aquaculture production in ACP countries jumped from 50,000 tonnes in 1990 to 790,000 in 2016, but still represents less than one per cent of global production.