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EU-Supported Multi-Stakeholder Public Discussions on Developing Georgia’s Aquaculture Strategy

07.03.23 13:00
Public discussions about Georgia's National Aquaculture Development Strategy were held at Courtyard Marriott Tbilisi. The event was organised through the support of the European Union (EU), under its ENPARD IV programme, by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The public discussions aimed to present the draft Strategy document to key stakeholders and hold consultations before finalising it.

The event was opened, and welcoming speeches were delivered by: Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia; Georges Dehoux, Programme Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety at the EU Delegation to Georgia; Jumber Maruashvili, FAO Senior National Policy Advisor.

During the first session, the FAO experts presented the draft strategy, which was updated per the feedback and inputs from key stakeholders. Afterwards, round table discussions were divided into four modules highlighting the four directions of the strategy and action plan – Governance, Production, Marketing, and Social. As a result, representatives of the Georgian state and private institutions, NGOs, and other actors provided MEPA, NEA and FAO with further inputs to finalise the Strategy.

Together with MEPA and its agencies and through the support of the EU, FAO has been working on the aquaculture development strategy for the last two years. International FAO experts have contributed significantly to this process by providing expertise while also adapting their knowledge and experience to Georgia’s context. Experts conducted field visits and consultations within the project to engage all relevant stakeholders, positively impacting the target-oriented strategy development process. Once the inputs from the round table discussions are integrated into the draft National Aquaculture Development Strategy of Georgia, the document will be finalised for MEPA’s approval.

„The development of aquaculture and mariculture is regarded as very important in Georgia, and this direction is one of the priorities of our government. We already have a law about aquaculture. In parallel, with the involvement of EU experts, intensive work is being undertaken to allocate mariculture zones, which will allow us to develop mariculture in the Black Sea and, this way, accumulate more economic benefits for the country. With regards to the Aquaculture Development Strategy, it must be noted that this is an important document implemented with the involvement of FAO experts. Naturally, our Ministry and the private sector representatives are actively engaged in this process. The Aquaculture Development Strategy will support the rational utilisation of resources and make it possible for us to correctly assess bigger and long-term perspectives for developing aquaculture in the country”, stated Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.

“Georgia’s aquaculture sector most certainly has the potential to generate more economic development opportunities. It is great to make this final step of further developing the Strategy. By following this important document, Georgia can use its potential and transform the aquaculture sector and provide new avenues for economic development in rural areas, with a focus on inclusivity and environmental and social sustainability”, said Javier Sanz Alvarez, FAO Programme Coordinator.

“With its diverse water resources and committed producer base, Georgia has a huge potential in terms of aquaculture development. The challenge is to make aquaculture development green, inclusive, and much more productive than it currently is, while respecting EU food safety standards. It is my firm belief that, if this is achieved, Georgian aquaculture products will become very competitive not only on international but also on domestic markets. Establishing credibility of the Georgian brand of aquaculture will be essential in convincing the Georgian consumer to not only favour local products over imported ones but also increase its fish consumption for better nutrition. This aquaculture strategy will thus be a crucial tool in the long-term development of the sector and we are very happy to have actively contributed to it through our ENPARD programme and our FAO partner”, said Georges Dehoux, Programme Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety at the EU Delegation to Georgia.