African fisheries on small (pelagic) fish are the most eco-friendly and socially equitable of food production systems that support millions Africans directly or indirectly through food and income. As they are processed, sold and eaten whole small fish supply vital micro-nutrients for millions of people. Fishing pressure on most small fish species is still only a fraction of the pressure on large fish species. By fishing small fish lower in the aquatic food chain we can increase food production significantly. However, fisheries on small fish are undervalued in the global food discourse and under increasing pressure from misguided reforms and maladapted regulations. In addition, their local use as fishmeal in animal feeds, including for aquaculture, is increasingly competing for these resources. This interdisciplinary research project aims to research the nutritional benefits of small fish as well as map and quantify their patterns of production and distribution for food and feed, focussing on Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
A comprehensive assessment of the various flows of small fish in value chains and that explicitly and in considerable detail keeps track of these flows (volumes, revenues, costs) from landing to consumer. To do so we aim to evaluate the contribution that this fishery plays in terms of food security, but potentially also in terms of contributions to the national economy (multiplier effect) and employment. By associating a value chain model to an ecosystem model, a full model of the socio-ecological system can be represented that will aid in setting policy and management goals.