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EU pilots €40-m project to boost sustainable fisheries, aquaculture in ACP countries

The European Union (EU) will be providing financial and technical aid to fisheries and aquaculture sectors across several African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to the tune of €40-million.

In fact, last week the EU signed a deal with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to create a five-year programme, called FISH4ACP, to boost the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in ACP member countries.

“This is an innovative approach that will boost economic returns and social equity, and reduce negative impacts on the marine environment.”

— FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu

The signing took place in Oslo, at the Our Ocean 2019 conference in front of representatives from governments, businesses, civil society, and research institutions who attended the global event to promote action for a clean, healthy and productive ocean.

According to FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, “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.”

Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Secretary General Dr Patrick Gomes
(Photo: YouTube)

In response, ACP Secretary General Dr Patrick Gomes pointed out the “urgent” need for such an initiative to “unlock the potential” of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the ACP regions, considering they “they greatly contribute to economic growth, decent jobs and food and nutrition security”.

A holistic approach

The EU-funded programme was conceptualised with ACP and will be implemented by FAO, beginning early next year. By investing in innovative value chains, FISH4ACP aims to stimulate inclusive growth, bolster food security, and minimise impacts on the marine environment.

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organiation of the United Nations Qu Dongyu
(Photo: FAO)

Also, FISH4ACP will work with 10 value chains in 10 different ACP countries in order to maximise their economic returns and social benefits, while minimising the detrimental effects on natural habitats and marine wildlife. The programme will pay special attention to small-scale fisheries due to their potential to deliver economic and social benefits, especially to women.

“The focus on all three aspects of sustainability — the economic, the environmental and the social — sets this programme apart,” European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella (Photo: Twitter @KarmenuVella)

“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.”

Regional implementation of the programme

In terms of the programme’s implementation across the regions, it should support both aquaculture and fisheries value chains in Africa, including inland and marine fisheries involving catfish, small pelagics, oyster, shrimp and tilapia value chains.

On the continent, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Zimbabwe, and countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika will benefit from the FISH4ACP programme.

“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.”

— European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella

Over in the Caribbean, FISH4ACP will concentrate on stocks of mahi-mahi and seabob shrimp in the Dominican Republic and Guyana respectively.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the programme will focus on tuna fisheries around the Marshall Islands, a sector with high potential on both European and American markets.

Despite significant growth in fisheries and aquaculture within the 79 ACP member countries, the FAO reports that communities which depend heavily on these economic activities are faced with several challenges. Among them are market access, value addition, working conditions and the risk of over-exploitation.

A fishing team in the Marshall Islands pose for a photo with their catch of the day.
(Photo: Sage on Sail)

To this end, the FISH4ACP programme will conduct value chain assessments to identify the main challenges in each country. It will also assist with exploring new markets, reducing waste and losses, improving fishers’ working conditions, and managing fish stocks at sustainable levels. 

Over the next five years, FISH4ACP will reap multiple environmental, economic and social benefits for the people and the fisheries resources in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. This will contribute to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 on conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, seas and marine resources.