Africa's continental fisheries and development strategy, The Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS), advocates for the sustainable management of aquatic resources for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development. The ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA) is a strategy for the integration of aquaculture within the wider ecosystem to ensure sustainable development, equity and resilience of interlinked social-ecological systems.
Sustainable aquaculture development requires that strategic environmental management approaches do not just focus at the farm but also factor in the wider environment. This is because in practice, aquaculture is dependent upon the entire ecosystem. For example, at geographical level, clusters of farms that share a common waterbody or watershed need coordinated management to ensure sustainable utilization and biosecurity. Cultured species are sensitive to water quality and are therefore extremely vulnerable to the damage inflicted by other users of the waterbody or watershed. Furthermore, while disease incidences can be controlled at farm level, their effects occur at the watershed level and often require control, management and mitigation at the watershed level. Likewise, exotic fish that escape from fish farms often impact biodiversity across the entire watershed. External drivers of aquaculture such as population growth and development, trade and climate change also affect the entire ecosystem. Moreover, watershed boundaries, trade and climate change transcend national boundaries.
Sustainable aquaculture development founded on the principles of EAA therefore requires transboundary initiatives. Common, coherent and practical regional frameworks and policies that promote sustainable development and responsible practice of aquaculture within watershed resource limits are necessary if sustainable commercial aquaculture development goals are to be achieved. Given the importance, a regional framework for aquaculture specific to Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region was developed. The framework is as a result of a consultative process; Consultative Regional Workshops on Aquaculture Environmental Management were held to draft the framework with the involvement of participants from the public and private sector involved in producers and other sector actors, environmental management agencies and aquaculture managers. The draft was circulated to Member States and Regional Economic Communities for review prior to validation.
The Regional Framework on Environmental Management for Sustainable Aquaculture Development in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region is based on principles of FAO 's Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture (EAA) and Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It adapts these concepts to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and the AUC Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS).
This regional framework has consequently been developed to ensure aquaculture development in the region conforms to the principles that promote responsible use of natural resources to ensure sustainability and equitable benefits for stakeholders and citizens of Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region. In conformity to this, this framework is built upon six core principles:
- Profitable: improve the productivity, incomes and potential to generate wealth from sustainable aquaculture practice. Inclusive: accommodate and meaningful engagement of communities and disadvantaged groups as well as other sectoral actors.
- Healthy: supports nutritional well-being of society as well as ecosystem health.
- Smart: expands opportunities for the region 's people to succeed nurturing them through to life-long learning, ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements by ensuring the best use of technology and training for aquaculture.
- Green: safeguarding environmental goods and services for the future generations by developing the sector within parameters of the regions environmental carrying capacity and thus building capacity for responsible use of natural resources for aquaculture development.
The key themes reflect the main challenges facing the industry. To achieve this, the framework sets objectives, indicators, mitigation measures, monitoring and performance standards as the starting point for responsible and sustainable sectoral development. The framework provides the foundation to support sustainable commercial aquaculture development in the region.