Abstract: The demand for fish is growing due to a combination of factors such as population growth, urbanization, and increasing wealth and incomes. Aquaculture is one of the few food production sectors worldwide where growth in production is outpacing growth in population. Fish farming or aquaculture includes the production and rearing of fish in freshwater ponds, in the brackish water of mangrove swamps, or in tanks and cages. Small-scale fisheries can give opportunities to the poorest, landless, food-insecure people and households, providing them a critical (and sometimes unique) source of income and livelihood. Fish in the human diet can help reduce the risks of malnutrition and of non-communicable diseases, which may occur when a too high intake of energy is combined with a lack of balanced nutrition. Farmed fish contribute to improved nutritional status of households, directly through self-consumption, and indirectly through selling farmed fish to enhance household purchasing power. Small-scale fisheries can provide a critical safety net for vulnerable households (even those who were not previously poor) when they face a sudden and unexpected decline in their incomes. At the national level, small-scale fisheries can contribute to poverty alleviation through economic growth via multiplier/ GDP effects, generation of tax revenues, and generation of foreign exchange. Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture face a number of challenges and constraints, including overfishing, pollution, competition for resources such as water, labour and land, poor access to markets, shortage of technical skills, availability and high costs of inputs such as seed and feed, poor access to credit, and lack of capacity and safeguards to deal with unfavourable climate change phenomena such as droughts, floods and storms. There is almost a consensus that womens roles in aquaculture and fisheries are not fully recognized, often go unrecorded, are undervalued, and are largely invisible in national statistics. Given the importance of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in poverty alleviation, food security and nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, governments should make fish an integral component of inter-sectoral national food security and nutrition programmes, with special emphasis on small-scale fish capture fisheries and fish farming or aquaculture projects. Stakeholders in these fish sub-sectors should support self-organized local professional organizations and cooperatives, as these strongly contribute to and foster the integration of small-scale operations into markets. State labour, finance, and policy formulation and implementation agencies, in collaboration with fisheries agencies, should improve national regulations for fish workers, including women workers in fish processing factories and markets, ensure that adequate and specific budget allocations are made for small-scale fisheries and aquaculture development, and facilitate the direct involvement of farmers and other stakeholders in the process of priority setting and choice of technology.
Keywords: small scale fisheries, fish farming, processing, marketing, food security, poverty, nutrition