Bringing together a global alliance of development agencies, governments and universities, the initiative will help low-income food-deficit countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop sustainable policies for improving the livelihoods of millions of poor people.
The European Union (EU) is funding the three-year project with one million Euros, which is managed by FAO in partnership with a global alliance of 20 development agencies, governments and universities.
Fish is the primary source of protein for 17 per cent of the world's population - nearly 25 per cent in low-income food-deficit countries. Fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart and brain development of healthy people, and those at high risk of - or who have - cardiovascular disease. Nearly 50 per cent of the fish that we eat now comes from aquaculture.
Although aquaculture is widely regarded to play a pivotal role in fighting hunger, little is known about its exact impact on food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation in developing countries.
Given population growth projections, increasing demands for fish products with stable production of capture fisheries, aquaculture will need to expand to meet the future demand for fish.
Impact on food security
The new partnership represents the world's regions where aquaculture plays a major role and supports the livelihoods of millions of small-scale fish farmers. It also includes key institutions with a strong expertise in research, development project implementation and dissemination.
The project ("Aquaculture for Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Nutrition - AFSPAN") will develop new ways to quantify the contribution of aquaculture with better tools and more systematic and quantitative assessments. Moreover, it will elaborate strategies for improving the impact of aquaculture on food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation.
"The project will work closely with fish farming communities and will focus on field research in many major aquaculture countries in the developing world. It will develop tools and methodologies to help key partners to develop policies geared to improving aquaculture's contribution to food and nutrition security," said Rohana Subasinghe, senior FAO expert on aquaculture and coordinator of the project.