The workshop, whose objective was to support sustainable aquatic food security for dietary animal protein and livelihoods through responsible aquaculture, kicked off with discussions on trends in global, African and SADC regional aquaculture as well as global and commodity-specific trends in aquatic animal health management.
Country specific and industry presentations on disease incidences and on-farm biosecurity management systems from Egypt, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia were made setting the stage for focused group discussions.
The outcomes of these discussions were a draft Framework for the SADC Regional Aquatic Biosecurity and Aquatic Animal Health Management Strategy which will serve as a package to be used for development of country specific national plans and implementation tool for cross-cutting and regional projects.
The other outcome was the Trade and Improved Livelihoods in Aquatic Production in Africa (TILAPIA) project plan to be used by African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), to promote development of other regional strategies in the four other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa and their Member States.
Robust biosecurity systems and measures have now become an essential pillar to a healthy aquaculture production that protects producers and the emerging sector from the risks and threats of aquatic pathogens and diseases.
National governments are thus expected to use long-term preventive and pro-active strategies rather than reactive measures as seen in many developed aquaculture regions.
It is against this background that this workshop was conceptualized to come up with plans and programmes for effective, coordinated and proactive biosecurity systems premised on science-based knowledge and practices used within effective regulatory frameworks backed by sufficient resources for enforcement.
Fish and shellfish are important but often overlooked component of global food security as it provides essential local food, livelihoods and foreign earning through exports.
Global capture fisheries are unlikely to increase production to meet population growth needs. Currently aquaculture provides half of global fish production and this is projected to increase to two thirds of global fish production by 2030.
While global average per capita fish consumption is expected to increase by 2030, in Africa, where fish serves as the major protein source, it will decrease from 7.5 kilograms per year to 5.6 kilograms annually by 2030. This could be averted through increasing aquatic food production in Africa whose aquaculture is emerging with significant potential. However, fish health infrastructure is typically not established to support rapidly growing aquaculture industries and meet biosecurity needs in fisheries.
The incursion of two significant aquatic diseases, in the Chobe-Zambezi River and in Mozambique and Madagascar serves as a wakeup call to Africa. Fortunately, these were “known” pathogens but it could be devastating if ‘unknown’ disease suddenly appears.
Another danger is when a trans-boundary aquatic animal disease moves from one country or region to another.
“Overall this was a successful workshop and it proved how cooperation by different stakeholders, coordination and alignment of approaches and rationalization of resources can improve development in Africa as we continue to craft solutions to support food production, livelihoods support and economic development in the continent,” said a FAO official.
Participants were drawn from all SADC Member States, other African countries which are major players in aquaculture. International organizations and development partners present were AU-IBAR, African Eco-labelling Mechanism (AEM), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), SADC Secretariat, World Fish Centre (WFC), World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE), and the private sector representatives. This workshop was supported by AU-IBAR through STDF TILAPIA project and European Union (EU), the South African government through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and FAO in South Africa.