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by Roy Palmer, Aquaculture Without Frontiers, Australia

orn and bred from the Aquaculture sector in order to

create a voluntary organisation to contribute to the
alleviation of poverty through small-scale aquaculture,
Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF), recently celebrated
its 10th birthday with an updated vision and strategy.


AwF was formed by Michael New OBE, having been encouraged by

colleagues after delivering a keynote paper at the World Aquaculture
Society (WAS) conference in Salvador, Brazil in 2003 (New 2003).
Michaels idea was stimulated by reading about the activities of
Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) and two articles published in The
Economist (Anonymous 2003a, b). He ventured the idea that people
who had retired from a career in aquaculture might wish to volunteer
their experience to help those less fortunate than themselves. In
fact, Michael found that the idea of voluntary service in aquaculture
appealed to a wide spectrum of individuals, from students to retirees.

A gem, run on a shoestring

The board was a veritable whos who of aquaculture and it ran

then, as it does now, on a shoestring. AwF is not an organisation built
around creating a massive bank of donated funds, creating overheads
and paying high salaries to staff but on actually working with the great
goodwill of aquaculture people and doing things that create positive
outcomes for the poor and hungry of the world. It is the real meaning
of what a charity is all about people give what they can, whether
that is a few dollars, or more importantly their time, knowledge and
experience. It is a real gem in todays world of professional NGOs and
it is a credit to its founder and all that have or are still serving its needs.
Having said that, there was the need to modify some of the organisation and during these changes there can be no question that we lost
some momentum. John Forster, Dave Conley and Cormac OSullivan
have greatly assisted the organisation with constant input and wise
council and have been a strength on the board. It felt like we were
going backwards, but sometimes in life these changes need to be made
in order to take stock and move forward with greater and stronger
steps. Hopefully, that is what we are doing!

Establishing sustainable networks

First was the creation of a strategy and a vision and mission, and
clearly the people engaged at the time saw Aquaculture Learning
Centres (ALCs) as a major key in the future of AwF.
That means we have eased back on chasing smaller projects and are
trying to create a more sustainable model for wherever we tread. It means
we are building capability and capacity in one area at a time so that when
we leave, essential networks of people are well established and can communicate internally and externally.

Additionally, we also have taken a broader brush to aquaculture.

Education on nutrition (both human and animal) is essential people
need to know why seafood is important in their diet and how feeding
their fish the right mixes helps deliver not only excellent fish health but
also connects to human health.
Entrepreneurial activities are also essential and encouraged, as we
need to encourage people to want to get out of the poverty trap.
Clearly, not everyone can run their own fish farm; there will always be
people who are prepared to take the extra calculated risks and who
are leaders. As long as they are building enterprises which are employing people and paying them a fair wage for a fair days work, and are
transparent in their activities, then they are helping improve the world,
and need to be encouraged and supported.

Our incredible volunteers

Of course, our business model means we are reliant on our incredible volunteers, and we needed to review our processes on how we
manage and work with these fantastic individuals. Slowly and surely,
we have built a committee and secretariat which now manage the
Volunteer Program. What used to be done with a nod and a wink
in the old days is not possible today, and our Volunteer Committee
- consisting of Cormac OSullivan, Ignacio Llorente and Stacey Clarke,
with Paul Liew running the secretariat - are working hard on ensuring we have an efficient databank of all the volunteers, and that we
are in regular contact, keeping them up to date about activities and
We are always seeking new volunteers, so anyone that is interested
in assisting us on the journey we are taking, please complete the form
at http://www.aquaculturewithoutfrontiers.org/volunteers/

Learning centres are key

Our strategic plan is based around building Aquaculture Learning

Centres (ALCs), and our first ALC is in Tancol, a suburb of Tampico
in the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico, in collaboration with Universidad
Tecnolgica del Mar de Tamaulipas Bicentenario (UTMarT). Whilst
the main centre for UTMarT is at Soto La Marina - La Pesca, about 4
hours drive north of Tampico, near to Laguna Morales, this new centre
in Tancol will be used to educate students and industry on aquaculture
and hospitality, and will have connections to both the Mexican Federal
Government (SAGARPA) and the State Government.
All of these ALCs need strong, passionate leaders and, in the case of
Tancol, this has definitely been UTMarTs Director de Vinculacin, MC.
Hctor Hugo Gjon Bez, who has been supported by the Rector,
Dr. Guadalupe Acosta Villarreal, and the Director Acadmico, MC.
Tonatiuh Carrillo Lammens.
Fresh water is in abundance at the Tancol site and, being an old
water plant, there are some excellent - albeit old but well-constructed
- inbuilt large tanks. Some of these are being used as is, but others

22 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | March-April 2015

are being converted, with sailing cloth roof-coverings, to smaller areas,
which will be able to be used in research projects for the students.

Government funding

Funding from the Mexican Federal Government has enabled the

building of a brand new education centre that will accommodate 200
students, but unfortunately the funds did not stretch to finishing the
important hatchery area. Efforts are being made now to find the extra
pesos to finish the hatchery area and, importantly, to have it housed in
a solidly constructed building.
Through the great assistance of Kevin Fitzsimmons (ex-AwF
President) and the US Aid Farmer to Farmer program, AwF were able
to invite Scott Lindell and Rick Karney to visit Tamaulipas and conduct
a survey of facilities as well as have discussions at UTMarT with staff
and students, meet industry people and offer some training about
shellfish and microalgae aquaculture. This visit was followed up quickly
by Daniel Herman and Imad Saoud, who were looking at other aspects
and challenges for the ALC.

Prospects for expansion

were had with business people of the area and education institutions,
and hopefully this will see AwF have operations on both sides of
Mexico in the near future.
AwF are also very excited about the prospects of two other important ALC centres. One is based in the United Kingdom, and will be a
major connection for our plans in the African continent. The other, in
Sarawak, Malaysia, could be our first ALC in Asia.
In Malaysia, AwF have a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Association of International Seafood Professionals and STEM States
Incorporated, both of which are not-for-profit associations and incorporated in Australia. The latter acts as a forum through which industry,
associations, academia and government can come together to discuss

"Our strategic plan is based around building Aquaculture

Learning Centres (ALCs), and our first ALC is in
Tancol, a suburb of Tampico in the State of Tamaulipas,
Mexico, in collaboration with Universidad Tecnolgica

The opportunity became available at the end of 2014 for a meeting

at La Pesca to consider what has been achieved and what the next
major steps are in the arrangement. A report is currently being prepared for further actions during 2015.
The oyster aquaculture prospects to replace the fishing methods
currently adopted in Laguna Morales are a key ingredient to the potential success of the plans. The early work done by AwF volunteers has
paved the way for some excited fisher folk, as they can see a future
for their business with a more sustainable model than was originally
the case.
At the same time, during the visit to Mexico AwF had the opportunity to visit another potential site for an ALC in Sonora. Discussions

del Mar de Tamaulipas Bicentenario (UTMarT)"

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education
and innovation, and the role it plays in the needs of industry, export,
trade and development.

STEM states

The background to the 'Global STEM States' is as a grassroots

movement, with a medley of not-for-profit, academic, industry and
government organisations entering into dialogue over the role STEM
education plays in a state's future human resource needs, and how this
should be implemented.

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ment of the Aquaculture industry in Malaysia and AwF will be creating
some guidance for that.


STEM States hosts conferences and events around the world every
year, and each one plays a role in bringing the international community
to the host city, and leaving tangible benefits to the host city. Upon
launching in September 2013, five states took up full membership:
Western Australia (Led by Murdoch University and the AsiaPacific Society for Solar and Hybrid Technologies)
New York, USA (Led by the Global Industry Development
Network; AwF also is a member of this network)
Sarawak, Malaysia (Led by STEM States Malaysia and the
Department for Advanced Education)
Saskatchewan, Canada (Led by Tourism Saskatoon, Innovation
Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan)
Nova Scotia, Canada (Led by the Department of Education and
the Halifax Convention Centre)
The United Arab Emirates, China, India, Russia, Germany, South
Africa, Tanzania and Brazil have also applied to become members
at different levels, and the potential for AwF through this association
could lead to activities in all those countries.
The Aquaculture Borneo connection sees AwF possibly involved in
working collaboratively on the formation of an Aqua Learning Centre
within Malaysia, with the purpose of educating and upskilling locals and
people from around the region, and the establishment or introduction
of aqua training programs within technical and vocational education
and training (TVET) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM). Additionally, a conference that will take
place in Malaysia in 2015
that will have specific track
dedicated to the develop-

In the UK, a project called REFARM (Research and Education

in Foods, Aqua-foods and Renewable Materials) has been started
between the Global Biotechnology Transfer Foundation (GBTF),
Seafox Management Consultants Ltd (SMCL) and AwF.
GBTF is an international, not-for-profit organisation whose mission
is to promote awareness of the potential for biotechnology to support sustainable, long-term, socio-economic development. It aims to
achieve its mission through three platforms: education, demonstration
and implementation.
SMCL is based in Grimsby, working closely with the Grimsby and
Humber regional seafood processing sector. The business is at the
forefront of the seafood cluster and works closely with local groups
such as the Grimsby Fish Merchants association, Seafood Grimsby and
the Humber Cluster Group, the Seafish Authority and private-sector
seafood businesses. It works internationally too with supply-chain support and also represents the North Atlantic Seafood Conference in the
UK. Additionally, the business has a particular skill-set towards accessing
funding and grants for major projects.
GBTF has acquired a brown-field site at Brookenby, Market Rasen,
Lincolnshire which includes buildings and 4 hectares (10 acres) of open
land, which provides for significant expansion as well as access to a
130-hectare farm which will be used for crop trial and field demonstrations.
There are many aspects to this partnership, but in summary we
want to link developed-world infrastructure with developing-world
needs for education, training and technology transfer to develop grassroots entrepreneurs. At the same time, the aim is to be producing a
highly nutritious protein for the local market, and by taking an open
and transparent path could open the door for the UK to become
food-secure on seafood.
The connection to biotech adds dimensions that are not currently
happening on any major scale. Given the interactions between Europe
and Africa regarding food production and technology transfer, our
approach will hopefully be seen as a catalyst for collaboration on the
future. If successful, this approach can be copied in other parts of the
world using an eco-cluster model.

Networks: gender, students and indigenous people

We are making an effort to broaden the base for AwF to maximise

our reach and engage more people in networks. From an internal perspective, initially we have established a Women/Gender Network and
have plans to establish a Schools/Students Network and an Indigenous
Establishing such networks is no easy feat, and takes time and
patience to organise well. With members at all ends of the earth, it
is always difficult to find the right time and means of communication.
Eventually, there is belief that these networks will be a driving force for
AwF, so the time and effort put in by all will definitely be worthwhile.
There is always the pressure within the groups to set lofty agendas
which might be too difficult to achieve in the early days, so tempering
expectations and keeping the aims/outcomes on the low side to start
is essential until we find our feet.
It has been an excellent start with the Women/Gender network,

24 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | March-April 2015

and some of the leadership group were able to meet in November
2014 at GAF5 in Lucknow, India.
Our Women/Gender network believes there is insufficient awareness, information and action for gender issues in aquaculture.
As one of the group, Chloe English said, This deficit is not due to
an absence of concerned people, or an absence of potential strategies
and policies. As a woman passionate about aquaculture, I identify one
key barrier to change-making is our capacity to effectively join the
dots between people and strategy. Change for women working in
aquaculture will gain momentum once we have united an engaged
network of people and adapted existing tactics.
AwF Women and Gender Network could potentially be the
podium needed to bring together the tools and people for meaningful
change. AwF Women and Gender network hopes to connect women
and men in new and diverse ways to find intelligent solutions for gender issues in aquaculture.
We will start our Indigenous Network through the arrangements in
Australia which are outlined below, and the Schools/Students Network
which has in one sense started (events in Marine Science Magnet H.S.,
Groton, CT, USA and Huon Valley Trade Training Centre, Huonville,
Tasmania, Australia) yet not been finalised and that will be an important
2015 activity.





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Also to that end, we have established Aquaculture without

Frontiers (Australia) Limited and are open to establish other such AwFs
in other countries. The strong aim is to build around the central model
that is established in the USA, but to enable the organisation/brand to
be built in other countries. With all such activities there are pluses and
minuses, but it is thought that, if there is the opportunity to expand

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Externally, we have joined the Volunteers for Economic Growth

Alliance (VEGA), which is strongly aligned with the US AID organisation. VEGAs 36 programs are located in 28 countries and we hope
to continue working with Kevin and the University of Arizona on the
Farmer to Farmer programs that they have funded.
At VEGA we are a non-voting member at this time, primarily to
see how this might work for us. AwF are making a presentation to
at their next meeting in Washington DC
W60 all the VEGA connections
in early March. We are the only identity that is specifically involved in
aquaculture and believe we will be able to create linkages with some
of their larger members who implement programs on their own, and
other times in partnership with other members. VEGAs overall focus
for all programs is to build sustainable enterprises that contribute to
prosperous economies, so we are all on the same page there.
We are also members of the Alliance Against Hunger and
Malnutrition, which is based at the FAO Headquarters in Rome,
and they have a global group of partners with whom we have
communication. We are having a meeting with the US Alliance
Against Hunger and Malnutrition whilst in Washington DC, to
see if there are any mutual opportunities for collaboration. With
the recent news that the number of children in the United States
relying on food stamps for a meal spiked to 16 million (20 percent
of all children in the US) last year, perhaps there are ways for
AwF to assist.
Naturally, we are a strong affiliate of WAS, and we highly regard
that connection. We are starting to plan more for the WAS meetings,
organising sessions on Development, Welfare and Poverty Alleviation,
and encouraging our volunteers to engage and put their names forward
to put a program together for the regular meetings.
The connection to all of these will enable us to continue to expand
our horizons, to engage with more people and to ensure we have a
sustainable long-term organisation.

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health of disadvantaged people and to foster social and economic
development. At the same time, it will promote and support responsible and sustainable aquaculture to alleviate poverty and malnutrition
and to enhance global food security.

Partnership with Deakin University

Hatchery needing building

New student HQ in Tancol

with everyone being aware of the strategy, it will be interesting to see

how it all grows and what the outcomes are.
AwF Australia is registered as a business, and it is waiting for
its approval from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission, which registers organisations as charities. Whilst registration as a charity is voluntary, each organisation must be registered
with the ACNC to access any charity tax concessions from the
Australian Taxation Office.
The board of AwF Australia is (in alphabetical order): Norman
Grant, Katherine Hawes (Chair), Mark Oliver, David (DOS) OSullivan,
Roy Palmer (Executive Director), Emma Thomson and Meryl Williams;
they met for the inaugural meeting in Sydney on 15 December 2014.
The aim is to connect Australias aquaculture skills and latent resources,
along with enthusiastic volunteers, to opportunities to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people both here and abroad.
One of its first tasks will be to create awareness of the organisation
and to engage with like-minded enterprises and individuals to create
projects and programs that will assist in improving the nutrition and

The Board acknowledged that there is much to be done in the

areas of indigenous and Pacific Islands aquaculture, boosting the status
of women in aquaculture and engaging with schools and students in
the region, and will be working to roll out plans on these issues in
the future; to that end, in January 2015 we signed a Memorandum of
Understanding with Deakin University.
Deakin University will partner with AwF Australia to improve
outcomes in disadvantaged communities using sustainable aquaculture
farming. Plans are also being put in place to look at incoming training
or short course workshops at Warrnambool, utilising Deakin and AwF
Deakin Associate Head of School of Life and Environmental
Sciences, Associate Professor Giovanni Turchini said, We are
excited to partner with AwF, which supports responsible and
sustainable aquaculture to alleviate poverty and malnutrition and to
enhance food security for disadvantaged people. The partnership
will also provide a platform for aquaculture professionals to come
together and volunteer their services to achieve these objectives.
We are keenly anticipating the opportunities this will provide for
Deakin students to undertake student placements and research
projects with the support of AwF around the world.
Deakins main aquaculture activities are in Warrnambool, Victoria,
and are very close to the birthplace of aquaculture, by indigenous
Australians many thousands of years ago. We aim to kick off the partnership with an Indigenous Symposium in the first semester of 2015 as
it is important to know how we can assist Australian indigenous people
in todays environment with aquaculture activities.

Worthy work

Fundraising is never easy. The competition is immense, and there

are very many worthy causes, so the competition is tough. We strongly
hope that the seafood industry and particularly the aquaculture sector
will continue to be a strong supporter, and we welcome all and any
ideas to assist our great cause. Our work is worthy, not only because
of the great outcomes we can give regarding nutrition, food security,
alleviating poverty and hunger, but also because it promotes aquaculture as being a force for the future.
Where we are today is far from the original ideas that our founder
had all those years ago, but hopefully it is taking AwF into an exciting
and sustainable era. Of course, this will not be possible unless we
continue to get support from as many people and organisations in the
aquaculture industry, so we continue to seek your support, your ideas
and your contributions - whether that be through donating funds or
donating valuable time, experience and know-how.

26 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | March-April 2015