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The United Nations (UN) is set to fund a blue growth initiative project that will benefit five countries in the eastern Africa region.

Gabriel Rugalema, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Kenya representative, said on Thursday that the 440 million shillings (about 4.5 million U.S Dollars) project will be implemented in Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Comoros.

“The project is aimed at improving coral reef fisheries production for food and nutrition security for populations living along the Indian Ocean,” said Rugalema.

He said that the three year initiative will also promote the restoration of fragile ecosystems and assist fishing communities to better manage the coral reefs.

Rugalema said that the initiative aims at improving the fishery value chain and access to the markets.

“The initiative will help the five countries track movements of fish from production to the market and reduce illegal fishing on the Ocean,” said Rugalema.

The UN official said that the money that has been donated by the Japanese government will also be used in improving maritime safety and enhancing knowledge on policy in collaboration with the Kenya Marine and Fishery Research Institute.

“We want to empower populations to exploit other blue economy sectors as opposed to over relying on tourism that has remained the mainstay of most countries in the region,” said Rugalema.

Over 30,000 people will benefit from the initiative which includes small-scale fishers and other fisheries professionals in the five countries.

It is expected that the initiative will help streamline fishing activity along the Indian Ocean given that at the moment, numerous artisanal fishermen, who access coral reefs, experience reduction in their incomes from fishing due to reduced catches that is attributed to overfishing, loss of coral reef habitat, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, illegal fishing, poaching by neighboring countries and loss of biodiversity. Enditem

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