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FISH4ACP virtual tour zooms in on artisanal fisheries and aquaculture

Special IYAFA edition features coastal pelagic fisheries in Sao Tome and Principe and tilapia farming in Zimbabwe

10 December 2021, Rome - In the wake of the 2022 International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, FISH4ACP’s fourth virtual tour paid a tribute to artisanal fishers, fish farmers and fish workers, and took over 200 participants on a virtual fishing tour off the coast of Sao Tome and Principe and for a stroll along Zimbabwean tilapia ponds.  

According to Maria Olga de Andrade, a fishmonger from Sao Tome and Principe, COVID has decimated her income. In a video about coastal pelagic fisheries on the African island nation, where FISH4ACP has started working on a more productive and sustainable sector, the fisher Edmilsom Bonfim said that his main worries are declining catches and intrusion of unauthorised vessels in the waters where he works. Undeterred, Maria Olga on her part was now finding ways to get back into business.  

“Maria Olga’s resilience and the challenges that Edmilsom faces are characteristic of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in many of the countries where we operate,” said Gilles van de Walle, FISH4ACP Chief Technical Adviser. He added: “With our value chain approach, FISH4ACP aims to bring economic and social benefits to fish workers while minimizing the detrimental effects on natural habitats and marine wildlife.” 

“Artisanal fishers, fish farmers and fish workers produce a large portion of the fish food we eat,” said Nicole Franz, who leads the Equitable Livelihoods team in FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Division and focuses particularly on small-scale fisheries. “In recognition of their efforts, the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) celebrates the big value of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for our food systems, our livelihoods and our environment.” 

“Artisanal fisheries and aquaculture should not fall into the cracks of policy dialogues,” said Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit - Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries of the EU’s Directorate General for International Partnerships, which is funding FISH4ACP together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). “Instead, we need to help fishers and fish farmers to realize their dreams, for example by providing them with the necessary skills to make a decent income and a sustainable livelihood,” he added. 

Leonard Mizzi’s words resonated with the ambitions of tilapia farmer Afra Nanhagna, who starred in a video on Zimbabwe, where FISH4ACP is supporting efforts to expand the tilapia sector. “My dream is to make this place a training hub for all those people who wish to do tilapia farming,” she said, stressing that today there are not enough people in Zimbabwe who have the skills for aquaculture.  

But the key challenge for tilapia farming is feed, Afra Nanhanga said during an online debate on FISH4ACP’s support to sustainable and equitable artisanal fisheries and aquaculture. She sparked a lively debate and triggered many questions from the audience on how to reduce the cost of feed and increase its quality. 

In Sao Tome and Principe COVID has not only affected the local market, but export as well, said Anibal Olavio, FISH4ACP’s National Professional Officer. Salted fish, which accounts for roughly one-third of the national production, is in high demand in Angola and Equatorial Guinee, as well as in Sao Tome’s European diaspora, he added, but the pandemic completely cut those markets off. 

“Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture play a critical role in the food and nutrition security of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries,” said Harriet Sena Siaw-Boateng, Chair of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Working Group of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which is leading FISH4ACP. She added that they also represent an important source of employment and export revenues.  

“IYAFA can garner support for sustainable value chains development to make our fisheries and aquaculture better able to deliver on the needs of our people,” concluded Harriet Sena Siaw-Boateng, who is also Ambassador of Ghana to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Head of Mission to the European Union.