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Dominican Republic on course to more productive and sustainable mahi-mahi fishery

Presentation of FISH4ACP report on upgrading strategy for mahi-mahi value chain

28 November 2023, Santo Domingo – Work in progress to strengthen the mahi-mahi sector in the Dominican Republic was discussed at a meeting of key stakeholders in Dominican fisheries, where a report on the sector by the global fish value chain development program FISH4ACP was presented.

“Modernizing our mahi-mahi fishery is good for the economy, vital for the livelihoods of fisher folk and essential to preserve this important fish resource for future generations,” said Carlos Then, Director of the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA) at a meeting of key stakeholders discussing the progress of an ambitious plan to upgrade the mahi-mahi sector.

Mahi-mahi production in the Dominican Republic is estimated at 320 tonnes per year and valued at USD 7.5 million, according to an analysis conducted by FISH4ACP in collaboration with CODOPESCA, ISA University and value chain stakeholders. Mahi-mahi, or “dorado” by its Spanish name, involves some 2 500 fishers, many of whom hail from the south-east and south-west of the country, where mahi-mahi is one of the principal catches.  

“FAO is happy to see that work has started to modernize the capture, processing, and marketing of mahi-mahi,” said Rodrigo Castañeda, FAO representative in the Dominican Republic. “This is about economic growth, but also to make sure that benefits are shared equitably, and growth does not increase the burden on the environment.” 

An assessment of the cold chain is currently underway in the provinces of Barahona, Azua, La Altagracia, Pedernales y San Pedro de Macorís. It is looking at ways of reducing the energy consumption of refrigeration equipment to shrink the ecological footprint of the mahi-mahi value chain. 

Fishers, fishmongers, and fish processors are trained with support of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the handling and processing of mahi-mahi and by-products. Special attention is paid to hygiene to ensure the safety and quality of mahi-mahi products entering the market, and to fish preparation techniques promoting more nutritious meals and less food waste. 

The mahi-mahi upgrading strategy was spearheaded by FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

“The European Union values FISH4ACP’s comprehensive approach that looks at every link of the mahi-mahi value chain,” said Alan Fernandez, Programme officer at the EU Delegation in the Dominican Republic. He added: “In bringing benefits to fishing communities, promoting social equity and environmental sustainability, FISH4ACP champions the Sustainable Development Agenda that Europe supports.”

In March this year, the strategy was endorsed by a sector-wide alliance of stakeholders, who have come together in the Dorado-platform to oversee its implementation. During their meeting today, the stakeholders discussed ongoing activities, including the making of a manual on good practices for mahi-mahi products, the status of a mahi-mahi catch analysis, as well as discussions with national authorities on social security coverage for fishing communities and the inclusion of fishers in early warning networks. 

At the same time, a FISH4ACP report on the mahi-mahi value chain analysis that outlines the upgrading strategy was handed over to CODOPESCA’s Director Carlos Then and other key representatives, who expressed their satisfaction with the start of activities, underlining the importance of mahi-mahi for local fishing communities and for food security in the Dominican Republic.