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Blue Growth Initiative to Develop Kenyan Aquaculture, Fisheries

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KENYA - The Government of Kenya and FAO have launched the Blue Growth Initiative (BGI) to benefit select areas in the coastal region of Kenya. BGI is a FAO flagship initiative promoting more productive, sustainable and socioeconomically responsible fisheries, and aquaculture sectors.

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The launch was held in Mombasa, Kenya, led by the acting Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mr Adan Mohamed and FAO Representative in Kenya Dr Luca Alinovi. In attendance was county leadership from Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and TanaRiver counties.

In his opening remarks, the acting Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mr Mohamed Adan noted that sustainability of fish supply in our waters requires concerted attention.

"Improvements targeted across the various aspects of fisheries management, as well as regulatory barriers, difficulty in accessing funding, fragmented research and development, and poor access to markets need to be addressed. Particular attention may be given to empowering the small/rural or artisanal fishermen and fish farmers who contribute consistently to the seafood supply chain, but do not have the capacity to optimize their farming or fish catch," he noted.

The inland aquaculture sector continues to grow, but mariculture is lagging behind. While most of the current aquaculture production is based in freshwater fish farming, there exists a lot of potential in mariculture (aquaculture in coastal and marine environments) on the extensive Kenya coast.

"We can sustainability develop mariculture through improving the governance and management of the aquatic eco-systems, conservation of biodiversity and habitats and most importantly, empower vulnerable communities engaged in small-scale production to act as resource users and stewards," noted Dr Alinovi.

Implementing BGI through the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA) in Kenya

The EAA is best implemented within a national aquaculture policy with a regulatory framework that promotes the growth of a healthy and competitive aquaculture sector while providing protections from threats such as disease spread, pollution and environmental degradation.

Mr Mohamed reiterated Kenya’s commitment to developing fisheries in Kenya.

"I wish to stress that my ministry is committed to making the fisheries sector one of the key pillars of economic growth in Kenya," he said.

"It is therefore my strong belief that the modest initiative my ministry is starting with FAO and other developing partners through these projects today will culminate in opportunities for major investments, additional livelihoods for the coastal communities and overall well-being for the Kenyan people as envisaged in Kenya’s development Blue Print Vision 2030."

In collaboration with the Government of Kenya, FAO has developed two projects worth a total of USD 1 million from the BGI, namely ‘In Support of Food Security and Nutrition, Poverty Alleviation and Healthy Oceans’ and ‘In support of implementation of mariculture in Kenya within an ecosystems approach’.

Both projects aim to increase knowledge of water basin to coral reef ecosystem services supporting food, nutrition and livelihood security so as to guide and improve investment in sustainable coastal mariculture.This includes a better integration of the sector into other activities in the coastal zones so as to increase understanding in conserving and improving coastal ecosystem services.

Elaborating the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture

The BGI is designed around capture fisheries, sustainable aquaculture, livelihoods and food systems, and economic growth from aquatic eco-system services. It is also bringing support and more attention to enhance the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and Aquaculture (EAF/EAA).

The launch is to be followed by a five day training workshop on implementing the Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA). The EAA strives to balance diverse societal objectives, by taking account of the knowledge and uncertainties of biotic, abiotic and human components of ecosystems including their interactions, flows and processes and applying an integrated approach within ecologically and operationally meaningful boundaries.

The general objective of the workshop is to inform and train managers, developers, farmers and other relevant stakeholders on the EAA and how to develop EAA management plans for mariculture areas in Kenya that incorporate other users of the coastal zones.

The workshop will produce better informed stakeholders on the EAA and its potential for aquaculture management at local and national level, and improved understanding of aquaculture for stakeholders outside the agricultural sector. It is expected that one or more draft management plans for piloting in selected aquaculture management areas and recommendations for the national aquaculture strategy in the context of EAA will be realized.