Charity at home
UK team promotes industry at home and in developing world
THE international charity Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) re-established its UK branch last year with a national and global remit. The charity first had a UK presence in 2004, set up by the aquaculture pioneer Michael New, who had also created the US AwF. But the British version was closed eight years later when New decided it was time to reduce his involvement in the charities.
The idea to start again in the UK was seeded at a meeting of Prince Albert’s Monaco Blue initiative in 2015. After much hard work by AwF solicitor trustee Simon Birks, the charitable status was granted by the charity commissioners in February 2016.
The new charity’s founding trustees were well-known publishers in the sector, Roger Gilbert (now vice chairman) and Tuti Tan, together with seafood knowledge broker Roy Palmer, also of the US and Australian AwFs.
All the current trustees, who include Clifford Spencer (chairman) and Janice Spencer (chief financial officer), are UK based except for Sven-Olof Malmqvist of Yara, in Sweden, who is recognised as a leading developer in the global business of animal nutrition.
A grounding in the principles and ethics of AwF – which is financed by donations and sponsorship -was offered by founder Michael New, as well as excellent contacts, tips and personal support for our new roles.
Initial ideas started to be formed, our first flier was printed and our first steps into the world of AwF were made at the European Aquaculture Society conference in Edinburgh last September.
Fittingly, one of the first presentations promoting the original formation of AwF was made in 2003 by Michael New, who was then president of the European Aquaculture Society, and he joined us at the 2016 Edinburgh event, and introduced us to other aquaculturists.
The bulk of the UK trustees then undertook trips to Vietnam and Ethiopia to study present day aquaculture in widely differing environments and to set an agenda for future work.
In Vietnam we addressed a major aquaculture conference and, with the income derived from sponsorship, agreed to finance the training of an aspiring young aquaculture operative on a course in Thailand.
In Ethiopia we looked at assisting aquaculture growth for the country’s very poor population of 100 million, who have some of the lowest fish consumption in Africa. This is despite the presence of the Blue Danube, Lake Tana and generous inland waters, although the country has no coastline.
Meetings were arranged with the UN and the Ethiopian government’s Minister of Industry, and the beginnings of a project using native grown faba beans as a fish feed has been spawned and will now receive further input. We have also approached the UK government for assistance in this task and have submitted an outline project for initial assessment and feedback.
Our next activity is to work with the World Aquaculture Society in its conference in Cape Town in June this year. The UK AwF has met the event organisers in South Africa and a further meeting will take place this month in Texas at Aquaculture America - in particular, to work with those setting up an African chapter of the World aquaculture Society.
We are also hosting an event at the Aquaculture America event and providing speakers, including a representative of the African Union, to promote African aquaculture.
The UK board of trustees have connections to aquaculture media, government offices, aquaculture feed industry, land based agriculture, United Nations family organisations, and the World Bank - and all on a global basis.
We are also co-owner of the budding National Aquaculture Centre, based at the Humber Seafood Institute at Grimsby’s Europarc, a region where more than three quarters of all UK consumed fish is processed.
Hull University is an academic partner of the National Aquaculture Centre which, through this association, will enjoy the involvement of