Category Archives: Updates

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Malawi – Hugh Thomforde

Category : Updates

Hugh Thomforde recently volunteered to engage in aquaculture activity in Malawi and very kindly forwarded a copy of this report for your interest.

“In 2008 the Mwangonde family purchased land along the Viphya River, part of the Viphya Plateau Floodplain near Mzuzu in northern Malawi, with the intention of farming. They observed that the river flows strongly year-round – an essential requirement for arable land. They attempted maize, cabbage, tomato, potato, and traditional crops of the region, but through trial and error found large lowland areas too waterlogged for good production. Years ago Odoi Mwangonde had taken an interest in growing fish in ponds, and visited fish farms in Namibia. Aquaculture is not widely practiced anywhere in Malawi or elsewhere in Africa. Wild catch still accounts for the vast majority of fish consumed on the continent. Mr. Mwangonde decided to build ponds on the areas of their farm at lowest elevation, undrainable and not suited to terrestrial agriculture, to grow tilapia. One native species, Oreochromis shiranus, is known as Chambo in Tambuka, so they called their new enterprise Viphya Chambo Farm. Now, eight years later, after several years of profitable production, but markedly poorer harvests last year, the family sought assistance to improve and stabilize farm operations. They contacted CNFA, an NGO providing technical training in Malawi under the USAID Farmer to Farmer volunteer Program. Detailed on-site review by CNFA’s local staff determined that the Mwangonde family were in a position to make good use of assistance, so in November 2019 I travelled to Mzuzu to provide practical guidance regarding fish farm management, including nutrition, feed formulation and improved methods of handling fingerlings. I am a retired Extension Specialist, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, I managed commercial aquaculture farms in the Philippines and United States, and have many decades’ experience providing skills and knowledge to small-scale commercial fish growers in Asia and Africa.

Upon arrival in Mzuzu I was pleased to learn that it was safe to walk most-anywhere in the vicinity of where I was staying. Mr Davie, my dedicated taxi driver, pointed across the valley: “We are safe here because those are military barracks. There is a school there. And they have electricity every night!” I learned that electricity is unpredictably rationed in Mzuzu, off in some areas while on in other parts of the town. The next morning I followed the crowds of school children on the path across the valley, but soon left the beaten track, attracted by ponds, and in this manner entered the Malawi Department of Fisheries demonstration station. A week later I returned (through the front gate!) to review their tilapia brood ponds, pens where pig manure washed directly to ponds as fertilizer, and a small-scale feed processing plant, available for use by commercial producers.

One afternoon I waited outside a clinic with Manase and Florence Mwangonde to use their microscope to evaluate the relative food-value of plankton collected from their farm ponds. The conversation turned to our experiences with evangelical churches. They shared with me details about their Presbyterian church, and I about Quakers. I also mentioned that my wife and I attend a Christian church with a woman minister that welcomes same-sex couples. They were incredulous that any church would marry people of the same sex. I told them our Supreme Court had made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 States. I was already aware of the strict laws against same-sex relationships in Malawi, and we never returned to this topic, but during the course of the following days we listened and shared at-length on a wide range of topics, from local superstitions to ways integrated aquaculture is implicated with world-wide flu epidemics. One day Florence scrolled through the photos on my cell-phone, initially interested in fish farming practices, and when she came upon family photos she was much impressed to learn that during my absence my brother, and then, in turn, my wife’s brother, were staying with my wife to assist in tasks of daily living. This sequence of interpersonal exchanges marked a deepening of personal relations with the Mwangondes.

Despite the brevity of my 2-week visit to Mzuzu I anticipate that the assistance I provided to the Mwangonde family will significantly improve farm profitability. In recent years about 50 percent of their operating costs were for imported, pelleted feed. But tilapia are omnivorous and highly adaptive feeders. I helped them understand why, at their stocking densities, tilapia do not require feeding. Instead, leave them to forage for food, much like the local practice of raising a flock of chickens. Wisely, they intend to implement, compare, and verify my advice slowly, over a full growing season.  

At the clinic laboratory we used a low-power microscope, normally reserved for diagnosing malaria, to understand some basic ecology of standing-water earthen-ponds. We brought water from several farm-ponds and spent an hour comparing the variety of microscopic plants and animals thriving in the water. A high diversity of plankton suggest a relatively stable, nutritious food supply for tilapia. In contrast, pond water where a single species of plankton is dominant indicate unfavorable conditions. Application of organic manures leads to more variety of plankton, particularly animal plankton, but also greater likelihood of stressful early-morning oxygen depletion. Ponds crowded with plankton have high bloom density, inversely correlated to Secchi measurements. By simple observation of pond conditions and weather, day and night, by keeping written records of fertilizer applied, and quantitative changes in plankton density, pond-by-pond, farm managers learn to maintain sufficient fertilization while, at the same time, keeping early-morning oxygen depletions and other problems to a minimum. We spent a lot of time with the Secchi disk – a low-tech device essential to bloom management. By loading ponds with manures inside porous sacks farm staff have greater flexibility to control the effects because sacks allow for quick removal when bloom density proceeds too rapidly (and any time Secchi readings are less than 20 cm). Then, when bloom density decreases (say, at Secchi readings greater than 30 cm), day-after-day, then return manure to the pond.

Successful pond management requires daily and weekly monitoring of fertilization rates, water quality, and other routine tasks, keeping written records, pond-by-pond and year-after-year. The reward of learning these skills comes at harvest: high-value live fish from low-value locally-sourced manures and other agricultural by-products. “

We appreciate Hugh taking the time to keep us informed of his important volunteering!

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Moving into 2019

Category : Updates

Several appointments have been confirmed by the Board of Aquaculture without Frontiers (US) which highlight that the organisation is moving in the right direction.

On the Board the new appointment is Mike (Michael) Deal who up until recently was President and CEO at Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA). Mike is a highly credible international development leader with extensive experience delivering results in the non-profit, business, and government sectors.

Mike began his career in international development with the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was USAID Mission Director in Colombia, culminating a 28-year Foreign Service career which included serving as Acting Assistant Administrator for Latin America and assignments in six developing countries. He achieved the rank of Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service and received the Administrator’s Outstanding Career Achievement Award.

Laura Rose has been appointed the first Programs and Development Leader for AwF and brings with her a wealth of experience in program development and strategy, grant writing, and aquaculture. She earned her Masters in Aquaculture from Auburn University in 1993, with the intent of applying those skills to poverty alleviation in developing countries. Most recently, she has worked as the Development Lead and Evaluation Coordinator on a tilapia farming project in Haiti. With additional expertise in marine education and outreach, as well as writing articles, technical reports, and other pieces for the public, her background makes her an ideal package for AwF and its plans moving forward.

An appointment of a European Ambassador in Paul van der Heijden has been confirmed and that has already seen some opportunities develop. Paul has a strong science background coupled with excellent management skills and outstanding aquaculture networks all entwined with a desire to ensure he is part of a legacy which develops a strong and innovative aquaculture industry auger well for the relationship.

Rick (Richard) Karney has also agreed to join the Technical Committee specifically on Shellfish where he has a fortune of skills, knowledge and experience. Rick has been Vice President of the National Shellfisheries Association, co-chair of the Southeast Massachusetts Aquaculture Center and was awarded the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment in part for demonstrating “that shellfish aquaculture can be an environmentally and economically sustainable activity for coastal communities”.

AwF President, Roy Palmer, acknowledged the loss from the Board of Albert Tacon, who has now been elected by his peers to Director, World Aquaculture Society and said “Losing someone of Albert’s experience from the Board was sad and it was important for us to secure the services of an equally elite professional and the Board agrees we have done that with the appointment of Mike Deal. Engaging Laura in the Programs & Development area will clearly strengthen our opportunities moving forward and then we have the bonuses of both Paul in EU and Rick in technical capacity, so we can start planning for 2019 with extreme confidence.”

AwF wish you all a fantastic festive season and we sincerely hope you all have happy and safe 2019 with increased collaboration on aquaculture/seafood opportunities.

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Increasing capacity of government and private sector in Pacific Community (SPC)

Category : Updates

AwF is playing a role in having input into the Aquaculture Advisory Panel (AAP) for the Pacific Community (SPC) in its implementation of the Aquaculture Development Project (PacAqua), funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) under the New Zealand Aid Program.

This is a 5-year project that aims to improve food security and economic development in the Pacific through sustainable aquaculture by enhancing business acumen among aquaculture operations, reduce aquatic bio-security risks and increase uptake and adoption of improved aquaculture practices.

The project activities will provide business mentoring and training, capacity development and technology transfer in feed, seed and brood stock management to selected enterprises and partners. The project will also build capacity at the national level by training government fisheries staff in areas of bio-security, feed, seed and brood stock management and other services that underpin private sector and community led aquaculture. The project intends to develop linkages with regional financial institutions to improve understanding and assessment on viability of aquaculture projects.

The project is in response to the recognized need that, in order to increase and improve economic and nutritional gain from aquaculture in the Pacific, aquaculture be developed on a business-like footing, be it private sector or community led. ADFIP secretariat is also working with SPC –DFAT funded Pacific Agri-Business in Research and Development Initiative 2 Project (PARDI 2) in the development and implementation of capacity building initiatives in this sector.

In one of the projects already under way the Pacific Community (SPC) is conducting a series of training workshops under the Sustainable Pacific Aquaculture (PacAqua) project in order to build the capacity of shrimp hatchery technicians from Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) and the Crab Company (Fiji) Ltd (CCF). The PacAqua project is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The main objective of workshops is to build the capacity of participants and improve the supply of shrimp post-larvae for farmers in Fiji. See Increasing capacity of government and private sector shrimp hatchery technicians in Fiji


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Janine delivers at GAF7

Category : Updates

Dr Janine Pierce (Director AwF Australia) presented yesterday at Gender Aquaculture Fisheries (GAF7) in Bangkok – the title ‘Photovoice: Researching Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries through the Camera Lens’.

This was the first opportunity to promote the new Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) logo and importantly offer the opportunity to hear first hand about Janine’s work in telling a story through PhotoVoice.

Anyone can now download the PhotoVoice Manual that Janine has prepared for AwF at and we encourage you to do this and start selling your stories about your projects and work.

Janine Pierce

As tweeted by Kate Bevitt ” : A fast, low-cost, high-impact research method that can create a powerful impact on policymakers & others to influence them for positive change. Janine Pierce from and speaking @  ”

Dr Meryl Williams, another AwF Australia Director, played a major role in putting this important conference together. For more information on GAF7 see .


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AwF has a New Logo

Category : Updates

For some time the organisation has been thinking of updating the logo to represent our modern day values and direction.

This new logo design (launched at GAF7 in Bangkok 2018) represents:

  • Our name – we are regularly referred as AwF so that is dominant; however, the longer version is also mentioned in lowercase
  • The circle design highlights that we are a global organisation operating in the Circular Economy (an approach to environmental sustainability characterized by the creation of economic models where no negative environmental impact is generated)
  • The three (3) circles represent the three organisations that form the group as it stands today (USA, Australia & Latin America)
  • The colors: gold characterizes our fantastic volunteers’ investment of their time, effort, skills and knowledge in all our projects; and purple depicts creativity, innovation and peace.

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VEGA comes to an End

Category : Updates

We thank all of VEGA’s wonderful staff for their assistance over the years

This is the last report from VEGA

Dear Friends,
We are sad to share that the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)
will soon close its doors after more than 14 years of development and volunteer
impact. Despite our best efforts to continue our successful partnership with the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and find new ways to
partner, VEGA’s Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to close
VEGA. While this is a great disappointment and loss to everyone involved, we
also have plenty about which to be grateful and proud.
VEGA has been one of USAID’s great success stories—a partnership with a
diverse consortium of nonprofits to send volunteer experts to work with people
around the globe seeking skills and opportunities to build a better future. VEGA
has impacted the livelihoods and lives of over five million people in partnership
with USAID through 68 programs in 56 countries and more than 51,000
volunteer days, saving more than $36 million taxpayer dollars and nearly
doubling the program value through cost share and leverage. VEGA’s skilled
volunteers have not only generated economic growth, stability and opportunities
around the globe, but also have conveyed the best of American values and
VEGA’s success has been due in large part to our members—from some of the
largest global development NGOs to VEGA’s small but mighty all-volunteer
members. Because VEGA was consistently in high demand, it evolved to
become an independent, self-funded 501(c)(3) organization and grew to include
as many as 30 member organizations with networks of more than 100,000
highly skilled volunteers with a broad range of technical expertise and practical
experience in more than 140 countries. VEGA supported these members in a
number of ways, including by helping the members to partner together, and
building the capacity of the smaller organizations new to USAID. The 23
members that have implemented VEGA programs delivered impressive
development impact, sustainably strengthening local partnerships to give people
the tools they desired for more economic security and resilience. We have the
utmost confidence in our implementers as we prepare to hand over the
responsibility of administering our ongoing 11 programs to them. (VEGA is
working with USAID/Washington to determine the specifics of this hand-over.)
Of course, we owe the greatest debt of gratitude to the volunteers who have
served on VEGA programs. These volunteers have been key to our
success—and the very heart of VEGA. VEGA volunteers are highly skilled
experts who have generously served their country as pro-bono citizen diplomats,
sharing their private-sector expertise with peers and partners around the world.
With years of experience relevant to their assignments, these mid-career to senior level

professionals filled critical gaps in USAID technical assistance while
also saving taxpayer dollars.
VEGA has been a strong advocate for the value of volunteers and voice to
educate and engage the American people in global development. VEGA has
raised awareness and created community through numerous success stories,
resources, lessons learned and best practices, as well as through premier
events on International Volunteer Day to honor outstanding volunteers with the
Volunteer of the Year Award.
We are pleased and proud that our advocacy of skilled volunteers in global
development cultivated bipartisan congressional champions who repeatedly
demonstrated strong support for VEGA and volunteers in global development.
This support included appropriations language directing USAID to prioritize
incorporating volunteers and letters to USAID stating, “VEGA is valuable to the
U.S. taxpayer, to USAID field missions, and to meeting U.S. foreign assistance
In response, USAID Administrator Mark Green issued a new worldwide initiative
called the Volunteers for International Security and Prosperity Annual Program
Statement (VISP APS), described as “a mechanism through which USAID will
maximize development impact and efficient resource use by mobilizing the
creative capacity of volunteers globally.” We naturally share the view expressed
in the VISP APS that “volunteers and the principle of volunteerism maximize
USAID’s development programs through bringing in non-traditional partners and
new solutions and ideas, increasing peer-to-peer learning, building community,
advancing diplomacy, and leveraging resources.” That certainly has been the
VEGA experience.
While we and other organizations have not yet been able to utilize the VISP APS
after a year of serious effort, we are encouraged by USAID’s commitment to
exploring how to build on the legacy of VEGA. Because of our efforts, USAID
has formed a task force, organized an independent evaluation of the VEGA
LWA and indicated that a new office to leverage the generous spirit and skill of
the American people is under consideration. We hope that USAID will invest in
improving and promoting the VISP APS so that it can become an effective
partnering tool, or that it will be replaced with a next generation version of the
VEGA LWA, as we have recommended. We are sorry that we do not have the
resources to continue to support USAID’s efforts. That said, we fully expect that
our members and other volunteer-sending organizations will rise to the
VEGA is deeply gratified by the support we have garnered on the Hill and in the
administration. We appreciate Administrator Green for prioritizing USAID’s

partnership with volunteer-sending organizations and skilled volunteers as one

of his first and ongoing initiatives. We also are deeply grateful for the following
bipartisan members of Congress and their staff for their strong support:
Senators Boozman, Leahy and Isakson, and Representatives Hill, Connolly,
Fortenberry, Cicilline, Donovan, Sherman, Shea-Porter, Beyer, and Chris
Once again, we wish to thank every single VEGA member, donor, partner,
volunteer, supporter and friend of the organization for their support and trust
these past years. We would also like to thank every past and present person
who has worked for VEGA or served on the board. VEGA’s staff have shown the
world what a small, talented team could do to support not just VEGA and
USAID, but also the entire volunteer-sending and broader development
communities. Our volunteers have inspired us with their relentless passion and
It has been an honor to serve and work with you all. We couldn’t have done it
without you.
Michael Deal
President & CEO

John D. Pompay
Chairman of the Board

P.S. Please look for our upcoming final newsletter, which will contain highlights
of the VEGA legacy. Meanwhile, please take the opportunity to download the
VEGA LWA Final Report and tour the resources and stories on our website
while it is still live.

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Awards in memory of Prof M C Nandeesha

Category : Updates

AwF is delighted to see our previous President’s name carried on at GAF-India, Kochi, Kerala 21-24 November.

The winner of the first Asian Fisheries Society Indian Branch Prof. M.C. Nandeesha Gender Justice and Equality Award was AwF (Australia) Director, Meryl Williams.

Here are the details of the winners:

“Read More”

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Festive Greetings and a Happy New Year to all!

Category : Updates

We thank all our volunteers for your contributions to AwF this year and we look forward to working with you in 2018.

Many hands make light work!

As we are a volunteer organisation, run solely by volunteers, we are keen to engage as many of you as possible in creating our new Strategic Action Plan 2018-2022
(5 years).

We see the Vision, Mission and Strategic principles basically as outlined at, and we welcome your input and ideas for specific actions to achieve these.

Please engage by communicating your ideas HERE

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Youth engagement and exposure

Category : Updates

L-R Roy David Jessica Laetitia Liam v B Liam H

Following on from the great efforts of Swinburne University students in developing our updated website last year, we are delighted to have another group of final year Swinburne students working with us to further enhance that work and develop an engagement and exposure plan. After initial work and our second meeting, the students commented as follows:

“The student team at Swinburne University is happy to be assisting AwF in their efforts to increase outreach and expand connections with students.
We are excited to use the skills we have acquired at Swinburne in the fields of Marketing, Business and Technology to assist with an important cause that helps people in more challenging circumstances.
Food security and sustainable aquaculture is an issue that will only become more critical into the future due to the challenges of changing climate and a rising population in many parts of the world.”

“Read More”

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Creating a long-term sustainable Oyster industry in Tamaulipas, Mexico

Category : Updates

Under the auspices of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) has awarded a grant to Aquaculture without Frontiers (Australia) Limited to bring together seafood educators/professionals in Australia and Mexico to strengthen links in business, education, sustainability and applied research creating a long-term sustainable Oyster industry in Tamaulipas, Mexico. This will then be used as a model for extension to other suitably located areas in Mexico and more Latin American countries and for additional seafood species.

Aquaculture without Frontiers (Australia) Limited will be working with Universidad Tecnológica del Mar de Tamaulipas Bicentenario  (UTMarT) which specialises in aquaculture; tourism; and information and communication technology. There has been a long-term arrangement between the parties which was started with an earlier AwF USA USAID Farmer to Farmer project where AwF was involved in establishing an Oyster farming concept. The objective was to assist fishermen in Tamaulipas who were dealing with a depleted oyster situation and to take them on a journey (with their families) to help them become Oyster farmers thus creating a more sustainable income model.

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