14 October 2021, Istanbul – The Seventh Session of the Central Asian and Caucasus Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CACFish) was held on 11-13 October 2021, with the participation of CACFish members, key regional stakeholders and invited contracting parties. CACFish plays a central role in enhancing regional cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture. At the start of the opening session, Kyrgyzstan was elected as chair for the next two years, with Turkey elected as vice-chair for the same period.
Viorel Gutu, FAO Representative in Turkey, underlined the considerable contribution of the Commission to strengthening institutional capacity development at the regional level through synchronized collaboration with fisheries and aquaculture programmes and projects, implemented as part of the ongoing FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme. Gutu also stated that the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) is considered to be the principal global platform for the development and adoption of policy and governance instruments for fisheries and aquaculture: “We expect that this occasion will increase awareness among the public and policy-makers of the important role that artisanal fisheries and aquaculture can play in the eradication of hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty, and in promoting the sustainable use of fisheries resources.”
Mustafa Altug Atalay, General Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry and Agriculture and Forestry, underlined the importance of aquaculture, not just as one of the largest sources of animal protein in the world, but also as a key sector that provides continuous input to the economies of countries worldwide. Atalay stressed that growing demand for food necessitates increasing the amount of natural resources and products procured from the aquaculture sector in a sustainable manner. As he explained, “This necessity implies responsibility for the conservation and development of fisheries resources at the national, regional and global level. In this context, the work of the Commission is very important”. He also emphasized the crucial role that strong communication between partners plays in bringing this vision to fruition.
Haydar Fersoy, FAO Senior Fishery and Aquaculture Officer and Secretary of CACFish placed these trends in a broader context: “Our world has changed tremendously since the last session in 2018. The importance of building resilience and ensuring continuity in food production has become increasingly apparent, especially in the context of external shocks such as the COVID-19 crisis. During the ongoing pandemic, agriculture has remained a bastion of economies with fisheries and the aquaculture sector playing a vital role.” Fersoy also noted that the goal of this meeting is to ensure and strengthen the presence of the sector in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, and to provide people with a stable and sustainable source of food and income.
The meeting participants discussed the main decisions and recommendations of the respective FAO Governing Bodies, the status of progress and the direction of the second five-year regional CACFish work programme. In addition, the Commission decided its autonomous budget for 2021-2022 and the work programme for the period 2021-2023.