Stakeholders renew calls for sustainable aquaculture growth

Participants follow through the proceedings of the 2nd General Assembly Congress of Aquaculture for Africa (ANAF) in Naivasha on Jan 16, 2023. [Courtesy]

Aquaculture for Africa stakeholders have renewed calls for sustainable aquaculture growth.

In an ongoing 2nd General Assembly meeting in Naivasha, the stakeholders said sustainable growth in the sector will be key to addressing the twin challenges of food security and poverty.

ANAF interim chairperson Semoli Belemane said sustainable aquaculture practices are essential to meet the rising demand for protein-rich food in Africa's burgeoning population.

He said although the aquaculture sector remains unexploited, the meeting is timely as stakeholders have an opportunity to deliberate on ways to enhance the growth of the sector, by adopting measures to address the persisting challenges like lack of capital for small-scale farmers.

The three-day 2nd General Assembly Congress of Aquaculture for Africa (ANAF) is being hosted by the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

Belemane said that cultivating fish and other aquatic species in controlled environments provides a reliable and efficient means of year-round production, mitigating the impact of seasonal variations on food availability.

This, he said, not only enhances food security but also offers a sustainable source of income for communities engaged in aquaculture.

“The majority of ANAF Member States have prioritized the aquaculture sector as a key component of the Oceans Economy now commonly referred to as the Blue Economy,” he said.

“We recognize the potential for aquaculture that can contribute meaningfully towards the food and nutrition sector, job creation, economic development, livelihoods and rural development.”

The stakeholders said the benefits of a thriving aquaculture sector extend beyond economic gains.

Small-scale fish farming, in particular, empowers local communities by creating employment opportunities, especially for women who often play crucial roles in these operations.

The sector also fosters entrepreneurship, allowing individuals and communities to build resilience against economic uncertainties.

“According to the FAO fisheries and aquaculture have been crucial in the fight against hunger and poverty, with approximately 600 million people worldwide depending on the sector for their livelihoods, and providing 3.3 billion people with almost 20 per cent of their average per capita intake of animal protein,” said Belemane.

He said aquaculture continues to show faster growth compared to other major food production sectors and this sector is very important going forward if Africa is to meet the ever-increasing demand for fish products.

Furthermore, sustainable aquaculture practices promote environmental conservation. When managed responsibly, aquaculture can reduce pressure on wild fish stocks, preventing overfishing and habitat destruction.

The stakeholders said by adopting eco-friendly technologies and practices, the sector can contribute to the overall health of aquatic ecosystems.

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