By Gift Briton
Livelihoods for over 300,000 people in Africa and Asia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors, many of whom are women, are expected to improve following an announcement by the United Kingdom(UK) government to support the production of aquatic food systems in the continents.
Through the Asia-Africa BlueTech Superhighway program, the UK government announced support of up to £45 million to enable communities to adapt to and mitigate against climate change as well as responsibly and sustainably manage marine and coastal nature and resources. This will result in improved food and nutritional security as well as employment and income opportunities.
Although animals, plants and microorganisms harvested and grown in water play a significant role in sustainably feeding and nourishing the world, with 800 million people globally depending on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods, 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.
The program will be championed by WorldFish across the global South and aim at scaling successful existing innovations as well as testing new approaches and technologies, including schemes to foster marine and coastal ecosystem conservation, data-based systems for better management of small-scale fisheries and integrated seawater farming where fish can be reared alongside algae and shellfish.
Lord Goldsmith, Minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), noted: “The UK’s £500 million Blue Planet Fund is already helping to support more sustainable seafood production and marine protection. Today’s partnership with WorldFish for the Asia-Africa BlueTech Superhighway project will enable us to test and scale innovative climate-resilient and nature-positive solutions to strengthen coastal food security in Africa and Asia.”
The Asia-Africa BlueTech Superhighway 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. The program will also build connections between governments, the private sector and others across both continents to share lessons and approaches to addressing shared challenges.
“Targeting assault on marine ecosystems compounded by climate change, this 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 world’s most vulnerable populations,” Dr. Essam Mohammed, WorldFish Director General and CGIAR Senior Director of Aquatic Food Systems said.