UN steps up efforts to help Indonesian fish farming recover from tsunami

Pushing ahead with its efforts to help Indian Ocean countries recover from the devastating effects of last December's tsunami, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has held a three-day workshop aimed at rehabilitating the fishing farm industry in Indonesia.

The tsunami destroyed income opportunities for thousands of households along the north-east coast of Aceh province, the area worst hit by the disaster, ruining more than 20,000 hectares of fish ponds, nearly half the total.

The aquaculture sub-sector is socially, economically and environmentally important and plays a significant part in the livelihoods of inhabitants of many coastal villages in Aceh Province. FAO estimates that some 40,000 people employed in aquaculture have been directly affected by the tsunami.

"FAO wants to contribute to the review for re-establishment potential of the aquaculture industry in the tsunami affected region," FAO Fisheries Department official Rohana Subasinghe said of the workshop in Banda Aceh, organized in cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia Pacific (NACA).

"Sound planning and a strategic approach to aquaculture development are very important to avoid unwarranted economic and environmental effects at a later stage," he added.

FAO Fisheries official Peter Flewwelling said the agency wanted "to move forward and assist in the rehabilitation process not only in aquaculture, but also in terms of the entire FAO rehabilitation programme that includes agriculture, forestry and livelihoods."