The British newspaper The Independent recently released its coverage of a problem that many West-African countries currently struggle with; fish stocks, important for human consumption, “being snatched by foreign food companies to feed factory-farmed animals – and ultimately the populations of wealthier countries“.
Aurora Foundation currently runs an extensive fisheries project in Sierra Leone, aimed specifically at combating the negative impact of foreign countries, on fish processing in West Africa, by building knowledge about fishing and fish processing.
According to the Independent, a number of fishmeal plants have been built in the recent years, turning fish, a vital source of protein for humans, into powder and farm-animal feed for foreign countries, – consequently creating food insecurity in West-Africa.
The problem seems to gradually increase, and it is pointed out in The Independent that the biomass in Senegalese waters has been reduced by more than half in recent years, with fish landings dropping rapidly.
By building knowledge of fishing and processing, as Aurora Foundation does in Sierra Leone, it is possible to maintain or increase the population’s protein intake, to help locals to compete with foreign vessels and enhance prosperity that reduces the feasibility of powdering fish into fishmeal.
In order to stabilize the continent, food security is one of the most important factors.
The first step in getting the landing site in Tombo, Sierra Leone up and running was taken 25th September 2015, when Neptune, partially owned by Aurora, started selling ice to the local community. The customers are mainly persons working in the local fishing industry but also others such as women who have small stalls selling drinks.
The very first customer was Isata Kawawho bought some ice tobe able to chill the water she is selling.
Aurora foundation has signed an agreement with the government of Sierra Leone and the private company Neptune Holding on the operation of four fish landing sites in the country. The agreement was signed in Freetown today on Aurora‘s 8th anniversary. It will be valid for ten years but the immediate funding of the operation will be 1 million US dollars. It was Birta Ólafsdóttir, a board member of Aurora foundation and daughter of its founders, who signed the agreement on behalf of Aurora.</br>The fish landing sites were built in 2012 by the African Development Fund and the government of Sierra Leone. However, the sites have not become operational, mostly due to lack of know-how in the country. On the basis of the new agreement, their operation will become realizable.
The agreement is a Public-private partnership (PPP) agreement, the first if its kind in Sierra Leone. Its signatories are Aurora, Neptune Holding and the government of Sierra Leone. Neptune will provide professional expertise and funds to the project, Aurora will bring funds and the benevolence of its mission while the government will represent the interests of the people of Sierra Leone. The spirit of the agreement is to combine the strengths of private enterprise, development cooperation and innovation. It is expected that the operation of the sites will be taken over by local operators at the expiration of the agreement.
The operation will focus to develop the fishing techniques of local fishermen, skills in fish processing and logistics. In essence, the objective is to seek better ways to utilize the rich fishing resources of Sierra Leone in a sustainable manner and at the same time improve the value of each fish caught. In the meantime, it is expected that the operation will stimulate more fish consumption in the country, but fish is the main protein source of the nation. Today, the annual catch of fish is 100 tons in Sierra Leone. The sites are expected to provide jobs for up to 400 people.
Aurora foundation believes that the project is a very important one. Its primary goal is to give the people of Sierra Leone a better opportunity to boost its knowledge of its valuable fishing grounds and enable them to make a better value out of it for the benefit of the whole nation. Aurora believes a strong and sustainable economy is very important to every nation. As a consequence, it is the sincere wish of Aurora foundation that the project will help to create an important pillar for the economy of Sierra Leone to rest on.
Mr. Ólafur Ólafsson, Chiarman of the board of Aurora Foundation: “It is indeed a very interesting and important project. Our vision is that a robust and a strong economy, that people can rely on, can thrive independently in Sierra Leone. The nation’s fishing sector has many opportunities to develop and grow and we believe that the resurrection of the fish landing sites is a correct and a logical step in that respect.”