Giving hope and empowering through aquaculture

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Giving hope and empowering through aquaculture


May 2013 issue of International Aquafeed magazine – AwF Blog

This is the first of what will be a regular blog/column that will bring you news and information about Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) and the issues that surround our organisation. We are grateful to the magazine in giving us this opportunity.

AwF is an organization of global volunteer aquaculture professionals who network; who are passionate about aquaculture and its ability to engage, train and feed the disadvantaged; and who create initiatives, projects and programs.

AwF was the brainchild of Michael New OBE, CBiol, FSB, BSc, ARCS, FIFST; Past President World Aquaculture Society (WAS) and European Aquaculture Society (EAS). Michael is still alive and well and is much revered person globally but he is trying to take a backseat and allow others to drive AwF. 

Following a career spent in researching, travelling and being a part of developing the aquaculture industry as we know it today Michael’s and AwF’s roots lay strongly within the WAS family. The concept for AwF was formulated by Michael on the back of a presentation and paper delivered at World Aquaculture 2003 in Salvador, Brazil.

At that meeting Michael had said “The NGOs that are involved in aquaculture development for the poor are sometimes religious, sometimes lay; sometimes branches of international organizations, often national or local. However, it is clear that they need help to utilize the potential of aquaculture efficiently and, as individuals, I feel that we should be ready to assist. However, the aquaculture sector does not have any NGO that appeals directly to the public (our consumers), nor do we raise any funds for aquaculture development from the public. We may sometimes wonder where are our ‘Friends of Aquaculture’, our ‘BluePeace’, our ‘World Aquaculture Fund’, our ‘Aquaculture Defense Fund’. I think it is most unlikely that we could persuade the public to support a lobbying organization for aquaculture, especially as we have suffered so much criticism (fair and unfair) from aquaculture’ movement would be perceived simply as a defensive negative reaction to criticism. However, I believe that there is a niche for an aquaculture NGO”.

From that point Michael registered AwF (UK) in the UK and AwF in the USA and launched the organisation at the WAS conference in Hawaii in 2004. The plan was outlined and he set about the process of actioning what he truly believed. Along the journey he has been assisted by friends, colleagues, family, volunteers and a range of donors who have supported the cause and seen their generosity turn into projects which have empowered and given hope to the poor in many countries.

The trustees of AwF (UK) decided to close the charity in Great Britain in order to consolidate all the activities of the not-for-profit organisation within the international AwF. All the remaining funds of AwF (UK) were transferred to AwF in June 2012. Michael New remains the Founder and Patron of AwF, which is managed by a six member international executive board of directors, which includes two joint Executive Directors, Dave Conley (Canada) and me (Australia).

AwF Vision Statement is:-

  • To become a catalyst for change as a means of improving the nutrition and health of people, to foster social and economic development, and to support sustainable aquaculture development.
  • To ensure direct action to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people through aquaculture.
  • To collaborate with like-minded organisations to maximise opportunities.
  • To provide a platform for aquaculture professionals to come together and provide service to the poor.

The projects over the years have been many and varied and they continue, however, with the above changes the organisation is looking to concentrate more on establishing Aquaculture Learning Centres (ALC’s) which are seen as the way forward. This was discussed in some detail at the recent meetings in Nashville, USA alongside the WAS Conference there. We will communicate more on this idea in the next column.

At Nashville AwF ran an interesting session which covered topics from the new business model, the work being done in Haiti and Africa and discussion about assisting the poor. There was a maximum capacity in the room and the stars were the people who are volunteering their time and effort in assisting our cause.

We look forward to continuing this conversation with you and for your support in the areas with which we work. In the mean have a look at our website and see how you might help us in our quest.