In an effort to assist in relieving the crisis currently shaking the country, Lebanon is partnering with the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support the sustainable development of Lebanese aquaculture as one of the sources of employment and food security in the country. On Tuesday, Lebanon’s Minister of Agriculture, Abbas Mortada, together with the GFCM Executive Secretary, Abdellah Srour, launched a general census of Lebanese aquaculture farms. The census will take stock of the aquaculture farms currently operating in the country, gathering information on the size of farms, species raised, final products sold, and feeds, chemicals and antibiotics used, among other important factors. The results of the survey will be shared with relevant stakeholders and analysed in order to provide Lebanon with a practical framework for the sustainable development of its aquaculture sector.

Though the country’s aquaculture sector is still in its infancy, Lebanese culture and identity are strongly tied to fisheries, which provide livelihoods for many thousands of citizens and a nutritional source for an even greater number. Under Lebanon’s plans to diversify its economy, aquaculture could present great economic and social opportunities for the population, including for women and young people, and attention must be devoted to its effective development at this critical time.  

“We are proud of our strengthened collaboration with FAO and the GFCM” explained Lebanon’s Minister of Agriculture, Abbas Mortada. “Increasing the supply of fishery products and knowledge of the value chain will improve the quality of life, create employment and promote food security.”

The general census of Lebanese aquaculture farms is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts between the GFCM and Lebanon’s Ministry of Agriculture towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sectors. A study aimed at improving the coverage and effective delivery of social protection programmes for small-scale fishers was finished last year, while a trio of projects to support data collection and effective resources management are currently under way: a discards monitoring programme, a socio-economic survey, and a recreational fisheries case study.

  “The FAO in general, and the GFCM in particular, have always been dedicated to building the necessary capacities for Lebanon to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals” said Abdellah Srour. “Among the most important of these is SDG 2, which is aimed at ending hunger, providing food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture, whether on land or in the water.”

On the same occasion, the implementation protocol for an experimental trawl survey at sea in Lebanese waters was also signed by the Minister of Agriculture, Abbas Mortada, and the FAO Representative in Lebanon, Maurice Saade. This survey – the first of its kind – will establish a proper monitoring system for the country’s fisheries as a way to assist Lebanon in planning fisheries management strategies as well as in complying with requirements in terms of fisheries monitoring and conservation.

In 2019, the GFCM opened a subregional technical unit in Beirut to provide Lebanon with strategic and technical assistance while implementing GFCM policies and activities, taking into account the specificities of the subregion.