Unlocking the potential
of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific

FISH4ACP’s virtual tour to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and the Marshall Islands

Online conversation on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture examines the challenges to shrimp, tilapia and tuna value chain development

20 July 2021, Rome – Nearly 150 participants to FISH4ACP’s third online event went on a virtual tour from the heart of the Pacific Ocean to the coastal waters of Cameroon and the ponds of Côte d’Ivoire’s interior, learning about the challenges and opportunities for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development from the people behind the value chains.

FISH4ACP’s third online event, held on 23 June 2021, screened a series of engaging videos from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and the Marshall Islands on how fishers, traders and processors make a living in the shrimp, tilapia and tuna sectors respectively, and the challenges they face to improve their livelihoods while ensuring that no harm is done to the environment.

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©FAO/Chewy Lin

The audience of some 150 people learned about a family-run container business in the Marshallese capital Majuro that is bringing more value from the tuna industry onshore. Majuro is the world’s leading transshipment port for tuna, but only small amounts are landed there for exports in containers. “I think I can make a difference here,” said the company manager Jojo Kramer, echoing a trend for people in the Pacific to look for employment abroad.

“There are opportunities on the blue Pacific continent,” said Cristelle Pratt, Assistant Secretary-General of the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which is leading FISH4ACP, a global initiative working to unlock the potential of fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. “If we sustainably manage our marine resources and build the right capacities, a lot of people would rather be at home instead of somewhere else,” she added.

The impact of COVID

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©FAO/Creative Cameroun

“COVID-19 has had a very negative impact, because the borders were closed,” said Ferdinand Jomo, an executive of a shrimp fishing company in Cameroon. Shrimp is the main seafood export product of this African nation known for its abundance and quality of the crustacean.

At the same time, the shrimp sector provides healthy food to many people in Cameroon, although domestic demand is low too, according to Anastasie Obama, a shrimp processor from the capital Yaoundé: “With the little means we have, we sell and make a little profit to cover our cost. It’s not enough but we make do.”

“Shrimp production for the domestic market and for export can co-exist in Cameroon, as long as it is done sustainably,” said Friederike Sorg from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that is funding FISH4ACP together with the European Union (EU). “Looking at the whole value chain, like FISH4ACP does, can help to ensure that we do not compromise the prosperity of future generations.”

Where the real value is

“Today, we need new practices and the means to use them,” said Laciné Diarassouba, who runs a tilapia farm in central Côte d’Ivoire together with his wife and children. Tilapia is the main fish species farmed in Côte d'Ivoire, where domestic production suffers from a lack of quality fingerlings and affordable feed and poor post-harvest processing. “If I say “means”, I don’t refer to money,” Laciné Diarassouba added. “The first thing is practice: to teach someone how to do it.”

“These inspiring stories show the importance of giving people the skills and the tools to improve their livelihoods,” said Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit - Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries of the EU’s Directorate General for International Partnerships.

“Knowledge is where the real value lies,” said FAO’s Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, Gouantoueu Guei at the end of the event. “Ensuring local benefits by adding value in the fish trade will be a key challenge for FISH4ACP. It will require finding a balance between food security and development and between exports and local supply,” he concluded.