Overfishing has now become evident throughout the world, which may shake the foundation of the livelihoods of many coastal communities. Thus, proper management of fisheries resources should be given the highest priority. At the same time, it is also necessary to promote aquaculture and supplement the stagnant supply of fish from capture fisheries. In this way, fisheries resource management can be pursued in a sustainable manner while meeting the increased demand for fish and fishery products. When it comes to the fisheries sector's contributions to national food security, management of fisheries resources and promotion of aquaculture are very important, like the wheels of a vehicle.
With regard to sustainable growth and poverty reduction, development efforts should not be exerted only on increasing production; due attention needs to be paid to maximizing the economic benefits from fisheries resources. By taking advantage of traditional knowledge and experiences of utilizing fisheries resources in Japan, JICA focuses on value chain development that involves comprehensive interventions from capture to consumption.
Based on the points above, JICA emphasizes the following three areas.
Promoting Co-management of Fisheries Resources among Government Authorities and Fishing Communities
For fisheries line agencies in developing countries whose human and financial resources are very limited, co-management is a realistic option to effectively produce meaningful results since this approach can encourage fishing communities to be proactive in managing their own resources. For the promotion of co-management, JICA combines management measures, which are essential for fisheries resource management but often bring short-term financial loss for fishing communities, with supporting measures that assist better organization and stable livelihoods of fishing communities. This approach will ensure sustainability of fishing communities' efforts on resource management.
Conserving Important Ecosystems
Coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, and tidal-flats are important habitats for fisheries resources as spawning areas and nursery grounds; hence they are called as "critical habitats." Conserving these critical habitats is considered a prerequisite for the sustainable growth of the fisheries sector.
Promoting Inland Aquaculture
Since farming fish in inland waters is the most popular way of aquaculture production in developing countries, JICA sees this production system as a priority area for support. By introducing the farmer-to-farmer extension approach, which mobilizes local leading fish farmers as community-extension workers, JICA will effectively promote aquaculture practices in developing countries with minimum support and assistance from the government authorities and institutions.
Developing a Sustainable Aquaculture System
In order to meet the increasing demand for fish and fishery products, new production technologies need to be developed for improved production efficiency as well as for environment and ecosystem-friendly aquaculture practices. Working with universities and research institutions, JICA will promote the application of Japan's advanced technologies and knowledge in developing countries.
In developing countries, fish and fishery products are important commodities that are widely traded locally, regionally, and internationally. Production of valuable fishery products that meet the market requirements will greatly boost the local economy, create employment, and improve the livelihoods of fishing communities.