Strengthening Fisheries Products for Health

Fisheries product quality control in ACP/OCT countries

Client:  EU ACP Programme

Key Expert:  Nick Willoughby

Time:  2009-2010

The Strengthening Fisheries Products’ Health Conditions in ACP/OCT Countries (SFP) was an EU funded programme, based in Brussels, Belgium. It operated through a Project Management Unit which had four technical modules helping competent authorities, fisheries laboratories, the fishing industry and artisanal fisheries in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, plus Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT).

SFP Module 2 supported the operations of fisheries laboratories and technical institutes between January 2009 and November 2010. The module was managed by a consortium of four companies, led by NR International. During the first few months the module was under-performing, and the first leader was replaced in November 2009 by Dr Nick Willoughby of the NRGroup. The module maintained two staff in Brussels to manage co-ordination and financial/administrative aspects of the work, and engaged a further 27 key, long term and short term experts during the course of the project.

A total of 72 missions were undertaken. Forty-seven of these were field missions to ACP/OCT countries and regions, while the remaining 25 were largely related to the procurement of laboratory equipment. The field missions visited 23 countries, 16 of which were in Africa, 3 in the Caribbean and 4 in the Pacific. The missions helped the fisheries laboratories with methods and procedures required to enable them to access export markets for their fish products. The range and variety of the support provided to the laboratories of client countries will certainly have helped several of them move towards achieving accreditation for their fish exports to EU.

On-the-job training took place on every mission, but 16 missions also had a specific training element in their terms of reference. In addition, a suite of international laboratory training courses was prepared, and two manuals were written, one on laboratory analyses and the other on business planning. These manuals will provide lasting help, to those who use them, on the most useful approaches to satisfying laboratory analysis needs, and the technical methods to be used in ensuring safe seafood.

Namibia fish sampling: photo John Cox
Namibia fish sampling: photo John Cox

The second major strand of SFP Module 2 activities was arranging the procurement of €4.3 million worth of laboratory equipment requested by 20 ACP countries. The bids to supply this equipment were managed under EU procedures and involved 2 languages, 9 tenders divided into 42 lots, leading to 19 contracts split among 5 contractors and covering nearly 2,000 individual items. The management of this procurement exercise was very time-consuming and complicated. The provision of equipment within the project’s time-frame presented a major challenge, and its subsequent installation in the laboratories will be a major success. National laboratories supported by the project will be much better equipped than in the past, and later projects will be able to build on SFP Module 2’s equipment provision to ensure significant sustainability in the field of fisheries product quality control.

Microbiologist in Solomon Islands: photo Richard Fuchs
Microbiologist in Solomon Islands: photo Richard Fuchs

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