Advancing Sustainable Aquaculture: Highlights from the 3rd Meeting of the Sustainable Aquaculture Development Working Group

From April 16th to 18th, 2024, AU-IBAR and AUDA-NEPAD convened the 3rd Meeting of the Sustainable Aquaculture Development Working Group of the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism to formulate knowledge products and discuss key recommendations for African fisheries reform and sustainable development.

Mrs. Hellen Guebama, Fisheries Officer at AU-IBAR, speaking on behalf of Dr. Huyam Salih, noted that the initiative, supported by the EU-funded Fisheries Governance Project (FishGov), and being implemented under the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism has undergone restructuring to enhance its effectiveness. She observed, “We convene to further the goals of sustainable aquaculture development, in line with the FishGov2 Project’s objectives. Central to our meeting is the synthesis of identified issues for informed decision-making in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. We recognize the importance of knowledge dissemination and capacity building, involving African Union Centres of Excellence and key stakeholders in producing policy briefs and best practices.” Read the full speech

Dr. Bernice Mclean, Representative of AUDA-NEPAD, noted the importance of the growing aquaculture development on the continent and its contribution to aquatic food and dialogue. It’s important to continually communicate the gains of aquaculture on the continent. The role of The Aquaculture Network for Africa (ANAF) was highlighted as pivotal in enhancing a collaborative approach to the industry. The role of the private sector and non-state actors, including the 2017 establishment of the World Apiculture Society through Aquaculture Africa (AFRAQ), was further highlighted as crucial to share innovations and ensure that research is communicated to decision-makers. She emphasized: “These have proven to be useful platforms for development partners to share lessons and deliberate on future programs. It’s important that the working group engages in these processes and is able to share knowledge dissemination to ensure greater uptake.”

The statement by Egypt as the Chair of the Sustainable Aquaculture Development Working Group, was delivered by Prof. Adel Abdel Aleem Mahdy Shaheen. Prof Shaheen noted the importance of sustainable aquaculture but also the importance of making aquaculture sustainable. Many channels for aquaculture need to find ways of finding solutions. There’s a need to embrace technology, including networking among stakeholders through ANAF. It’s important for nutrition, poverty alleviation in countries, job creation, and for the youth and generations to come.

The meeting was officially opened by Ms. Rebecca Muritu, Acting Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, State Department for Blue Economy and Fisheries, Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs, on behalf of the Principal Secretary, State Department for Blue Economy and Fisheries. In her opening remarks, Ms. Muritu highlighted Africa’s fish resources’ potential for socio-economic growth and food security, noting aquaculture’s growth despite its small global share. Kenya’s progress in aquaculture was praised, emphasizing its role in the national food system and its vast potential for food production. Challenges such as policy coordination were acknowledged, with a call for fisheries reforms. Gratitude was expressed to participants for advancing aquaculture in Africa. Key statistics noted include Africa’s 2.57% share of global aquaculture production in 2020 and Kenya’s capacity to produce over 11 million metric tons of fish. Read the full speech

The three-day workshop on sustainable aquaculture development in Africa commenced with an official opening session featuring esteemed speakers such as the Director of Fisheries, the Director of AU-IBAR, a representative from AUDA-NEPAD, the Chair of the Sustainable Aquaculture Development Working Group, and the Honorable Minister of Kenya, Dr. Huyam Salih, along with Dr. Bernice McClean representing Egypt and the H.E. Minister for Fisheries.

The three-day meeting includes presentations on the background and objectives of the workshop, guidelines for the production and publication of knowledge products, and an overview of the proceedings and outcomes of the Second Aquaculture Working Group Meeting. Subsequent sessions delve into setting the scene with presentations on the status and need for continental and regional approaches for aquatic biosecurity control and aquatic ecosystem health in Africa, along with a SWOT analysis of sustainable aquaculture development in the region.

The discussion at the meeting delved into multifaceted dimensions crucial for advancing sustainable aquaculture in Africa, emphasizing the pivotal roles of collaboration, knowledge dissemination, and coordinated action. Participants underscored the importance of leveraging platforms like the Aquaculture Network for Africa to effectively disseminate knowledge and bridge the gap between research and actionable development initiatives. Biosecurity emerged as a key concern, with calls for regional collaboration and structured protocols to address transboundary challenges and facilitate market access. Furthermore, discussions emphasized the significance of seed quality, feed optimization, investment finance, extension services, value addition, and balanced regulations to foster a conducive environment for aquaculture growth while ensuring environmental sustainability and socio-economic development. Overall, the meeting provided a platform for stakeholders to strategize and identify actionable recommendations to propel sustainable aquaculture development across the continent. 

The workgroups discussed the various issues – synthesizing the issues for knowledge products and wrapping up with discussions on next steps and the adoption of a communique.

Members of the Working Group present at the meeting comprise Ms. Rebecca Muritu (representing His Excellency the Honourable Minister of The Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy of the Republic of Kenya); Representative of the CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Dr. Bernice McClean; The Directors of Fisheries and Aquaculture of African Union Member States and their representatives; Representatives of Regional Economic Communities (ECOWAS); Representatives of Development Partners (FAO and AFDB); Representatives of Regional Fisheries Bodies and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (LVFO); Representative of the African Union Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture (AU-COEs) CLAR; Non-State Actors in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (NSAs) (ANAF); and AU-IBAR staff.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

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