A new initiative led by the NGO WorldFish has been launched to improve livelihoods for 300,000 people in Africa and Asia’s vulnerable fisheries and aquaculture sectors, many of whom are women.
The Asia-Africa BlueTech Superhighway, supported through the UK’s Climate and Ocean Adaptation and Sustainable Transition (COAST) program under the umbrella Blue Planet Fund, will focus on enabling communities to adapt to and mitigate against climate change as well as responsibly and sustainably manage marine and coastal nature and resources resulting in improved food and nutritional security as well as employment and income opportunities.
“Globally, 800 million people depend on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. But these vital aquatic food systems are hindered by the insecure livelihoods of those in related jobs, their low capacity to adapt to climate change and the loss of marine nature,” WorldFish said in a statement.
Bringing technological innovation to small-scale fisheries and aquaculture
The aim of the “superhighway” is to strengthen aquatic food systems in Africa and Asia. WorldFish says it hopes to acheive this both by scaling successful existing innovations as well as testing new approaches and technologies.
This includes data-based systems for better management of small-scale fisheries, where local communities can set and monitor their own catches, new seawater farming systems working with species more resilient to warmer waters, and integrated farming techniques where fish can be reared alongside algae and shellfish. The project will also support conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems.
WorldFish says that while a significant increase in production of aquatic foods is needed, reducing waste is also crucial. The project will also target post-harvest fish processing technologies including solar tent dryers and smoking kilns that can reduce the significant waste in fish value chains, estimated at over £18 billion a year from discarded fish alone.
International collaboration needed to scale innovation
The program also intends build connections and collaboration between governments, the private sector and others across both continents to share lessons and approaches to addressing shared challenges.
The UK government has pledged support of up to £45 million for the project. UK Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said, “It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of stepping up our efforts to bolster the resilience of the marine environment and, in turn, the economies and communities that depend on it.”
Outlining the expected outcomes of the project, WorldFish Director General and CGIAR Senior Director of Aquatic Food Systems Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammed said the project will “help to realize the great potential of sustainable, low carbon and nature-positive aquatic food systems to strengthen food security, livelihoods and economic growth in some of the wrold’s most vulnerable populations”.
WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research and innovation institution that creates, advances, and translates aquatic food systems science into scalable solutions. Its mission is to end hunger and advance progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals through science and innovation to transform food, land, and water systems with aquatic foods for healthier people and the planet. WorldFish has a global presence across 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, with 460 staff of 30 nationalities deployed where the most significant sustainable development challenges can be addressed through holistic aquatic food systems solutions. WorldFish is part of CGIAR, the world’s largest agricultural research and innovation network.