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Road to sustainable growth of mahi-mahi production in the Dominican Republic

FISH4ACP value chain analysis shows the way towards more productive and sustainable mahi-mahi sector

8 June 2022, Santo Domingo – Increasing demand for mahi-mahi in the Dominican Republic shows the potential for growth of domestic production, according to an analysis presented today to 80 stakeholders and experts, who discussed ways to strengthen the mahi-mahi value chain, while making sure that benefits are shared equitably and growth does not increase the burden on the environment.

“The growth potential of mahi-mahi is good news for our artisanal fishers and the population,” said Carlos José Then, Director of the Dominican Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CODOPESCA) at a meeting today, where the results of an analysis of the Dominican Republic’s mahi-mahi sector were presented. He added: “Increasing productivity needs to go hand in hand with sustainability and take the ecological footprint of the sector into account. Our priority is to ensure that economic growth is translated into well-being and development of our fisheries communities.”

According to the value chain analysis conducted by FISH4ACP in collaboration with CODOPESCA and ISA University, mahi-mahi imports to the Dominican Republic have almost doubled to some 300 tons over the past five years. It is a clear sign that there is room for more domestic production, nearly 400 tons in 2021, to meet growing local demand.

Local demand also indicates that mahi-mahi is an important source of food for many people and a profitable source of living for the countries’ artisanal fishers. Almost 2 500 fishers organized in 21 fisher organizations are dedicated to mahi-mahi fishing, representing 1 out of 6 fishers.

The Dominican Republic is one of the twelve countries where 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), works to make fish value chains more productive and sustainable.

The initiative started activities last year with an analysis of the mahi-mahi sector in which around 650 people involved in the value chain participated. The results were presented today. 

“We support FISH4ACP's combined approach to economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability, which is aligned with the sustainable development agenda supported by the European Union,” said Maria Gonzalez Mata, head of cooperation at the European Union Delegation in the Dominican Republic. She added: “With FISH4ACP, we are strengthening links with the tourism sector and developing new products for urban consumers, as well as increasing exports.”   

Over the next two days, stakeholders and experts involved in the mahi-mahi sector will review the outcomes of the value chain analysis and discuss ways to make it more productive and sustainable – laying down a roadmap of FISH4ACP’s activities for the years to come.  

“FISH4ACP’s success depends on the collaboration between all the stakeholders of the mahi-mahi sector,” said Rodrigo Castañeda​, FAO’s Representative in the Dominican Republic, adding: “FAO is happy to support this important initiative and contribute to a blue transformation of the Dominican Republic’s fisheries.”  

Sustainable growth can be achieved with improvements to the cold chain and to post-harvest handling practices, Rodrigo Castañeda explained, as well as by increasing competitiveness through better marketing and distribution.  

He added that FISH4ACP could work with fisher associations on issues related to social sustainability, including better access to loans, social security and education, while the environment would benefit from increased use of renewable energy and cutting down pollution by controlling waste and stimulating recycling.