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Small Island Developing States and AMR focus of Day 2 at #COFIaquaculture

This session of COFI Aquaculture broke all previous attendance records, with 188 delegates from 94 member countries.

The busy pace continued for day 2 of the Ninth session of the FAO COFI Sub-committee on Aquaculture held at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy. Attendance at this session of COFI Aquaculture broke all previous attendance records, with 188 delegates from 94 member countries and partner organizations descending on the Eternal City to discuss opportunities and challenges related to aquaculture from around the world.  If you missed our coverage from the first day of COFI Aquaculture, you can see our Day 1 blog wrap-up here.

The beautiful city of Rome may not be renowned for its rapid pace, but things were certainly different in FAO’s Red Room, where the COFI Sub-committee on Aquaculture was meeting. Once again, the COFI Secretariat and its member countries moved quickly through its agenda items on its second day of sessions. 

The item on Aquaculture extension was well received, and there was significant participation and discussion on the part of member countries and observers following the presentation of the official paper. As aquaculture changes rapidly, countries noted the need for more capacity building and training on key issues in the sector, in order to better support new technologies and innovation.

An AMR side event served as an interesting exchange of ideas and country and regional examples of developing action plans for AMR in aquaculture.
Country delegates from Turkey and Tunisia at the 9th session of COFI Aquaculture.
Singapore’s Huan Sein Lim, FAO Fisheries Director Manuel Barange and Malaysia’s Moi Eim Yeo at the AMR in Aquaculture Side event.
The European Union’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Anna Zito and FAO’s Chief Veterinarian Juan Lubroth at the AMR in aquaculture side event.

Key items discussed under this agenda item were challenges and threats to the aquaculture sector, including diseases and antimicrobial resistance. There were many member countries noting the need to encourage more youth employment in the aquaculture sector, and ensuring that young people aiming  for a career in fish farming received the training and skills they needed to be successful. Delegates were extremely interested in approaches such as aquaponics and rice-fish farming.

A heavily anticipated lunchtime side event explored the emerging challenge of antimicrobial resistance – commonly known as AMR -  in the aquaculture sector. Although there is a growing understanding about the challenges of AMR and how to overcome them in the livestock sector, there is often less understanding about the aquaculture sector. For many countries, aquaculture development is relatively new and more communication and training about this crucial issue is needed.

Panel members for this event included Juan Lubroth, FAO Chief Veterinarian, Melba Reantaso, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department’s AMR and aquaculture expert, Esther Garrido Gamarro of FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture department, Huan Sein Lim of Singapore, Moi Eim Yeo of Malaysia, and Anna Zito of the European Union’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Presentations were interesting and informative. Malaysia’s Yeo presented her country’s Action Plan for confronting AMR challenges to its aquaculture sector, which includes significant communication and outreach efforts to support ten various communities involved in the aquaculture sector. Singapore’s Lim spoke about his country’s lead for coordinating AMR efforts throughout the ASEAN region. Threats of this nature requite strong, international networks designed for cooperation, reporting, and information sharing, and the ASEAN model is a step in the right direction.

Anna Zito of the European Union’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries presented the new EC action plan against antimicrobial resistance, noting that the plan was spurred by concerns of the health and economic costs AMR could incur in Europe’s aquaculture sector.

FAO’s Melba Reantaso and Juan Lubroth stressed the need for global, interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral efforts, all firmly embedded in the One Health approach, needed to confront the challenge of AMR in aquaculture. They also reminded participants of the upcoming Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week, to be held in November.

A Special Event on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was anticipated by a day and generated substantial interest. Beginning a day prior to COFI Aquaculture and continuing in parallel sessions throughout the week, a SIDS seminar brought together SIDS countries from the Caribbean, African and Pacific regions. This constituted the largest-ever gathering of SIDS countries at FAO, and was confirmed by participants to have been an engaging and empowering platform designed to give a voice to SIDS countries and their very tangible challenges and concerns.

Seminar Chairman Thomas Nelson of Saint Lucia summarized the interesting and wide-ranging talks in which SIDS participants engaged during their days in Rome. Nelson noted that while SIDS countries around the world have very different cultures, languages and environmental and socioeconomic realities, their days working together in the seminar illustrated that they share many commonalities and similar challenges when implementing Blue Growth policies and developing aquaculture on their island nations. Nelson stressed that SIDS had much to gain from working closely together.

They benefited from an exchange of information and lessons learned, and they believed that their voices were stronger when joined together. Nelson, on behalf of participants, requested a permanent forum from which to discuss SIDS-related issues within COFI.

A lively discussion followed when the floor was opened to wider member country participation. Member countries voiced their support for greater visibility for SIDS countries as they work to implement Blue Growth and to develop aquaculture in their nations. Comments and interventions were so numerous that discussion was carried into the next day as evening sessions came to a close and the Drafting Committee prepared for another evening of work.

This dedicated team works long hours after the day’s discussions are through to finalize the reports, and they deserve a heart round of applause for their efforts.

Another day of rich and informative discussions for Day 2 of COFI Aquaculture – join us as we update you on how sessions progress in this week dedicated to global aquaculture. #COFIaquaculture.

Here they are! Our wonderful Ninth session COFI Aquaculture Drafting Team. hey work long hours evenings following the sessions to draft the final report for all the attendees - and still manage to keep a smile on their faces. Thank you for all your hard work!
Senegal was one of the delegations attending this session of COFI aquaculture. Aquaculture is still relatively young for many countries in Africa, but there is great potential for expanding aquaculture on the continent.
Attendees at the AMR Side event.
FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture’s Melba Reantaso at the COFI Aquaculture AMR in aquaculture side event.
Our Drafting Committee hard at work.
Brazil was among the 94 delegations at this Ninth session of COFI Aquaculture – and also hosted the 8th session of the Sub-Committee.
What would we do without them? Here is a small part of the team of interpreters that keep our COFI Sub-committeees moving along so efficiently ... in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. A well-deserved round of applause!
SIDS were a very special focus area for the day. Trinidad and Tobago and Tonga were both part of the large island nations delegations present at this Sub-Committee meeting.

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