Wednesday, October 19, 2016

20/10/2016: Aquaculture without Frontiers - Returning to its roots in the UK

By Clifford Spencer

In 2003 the first seeds of an idea to form a charity to help those most in need began to form in the mind of Michael New, a man whose aquaculture work in developing countries had earned him an OBE four years earlier.

This marked the beginning of Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) and a decade followed of putting donations to this charity to good use in supporting schemes to improve the lot of the poor in developing nations by encouraging the production of farmed fish.

Projects tendered to the charity were peer reviewed by volunteering top experts in their field. The administration of the charity was also ably performed by volunteers and the projects themselves were brought to fruition by similarly skilled volunteers working with the local population in whichever country was host to each particular project.

Thus AwF had the enviable reputation of deducting nothing from donations and all monies collected going to build the valuable and life changing projects themselves. After eight years of work with AwF Michael reached the age of 80 and decided that younger people should take over the charities’ management.
At this time he disbanded the original UK charity and transferred the remaining funds to the US based AwF, a separate charity contemporaneously created by Michael with the UK one, in order to continue the good work: a decision made to ensure continuity.

We now move to last year (2015) and after a discussion of interested parties a decision was made for the UK charity to be reformed.

In February 2016, the Charity Commissioners granted its registration as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and a new starting team was assembled.

It was my privilege to be asked to lead this new team (after the documentation was ably completed by fellow trustee and solicitor Simon Birks) by the new charity’s founding trustees and well-known publishers in the sector, Roger Gilbert and Tuti Tan.

All our trustees are UK-based except for Sweden-based Sven-Olof Malmqvist of Yara, who is recognised as a leading developer in the global business of animal nutrition. Today, there are independent yet connected AwF charities in Australia, USA and now the UK.

Others are being formed in Korea and Mexico to name just two. Each charity has its own board, or trustees, and its own objectives.

A grounding in the principles of AwF

So with my wife Janice (also a fellow trustee), I found myself travelling to Marlow in Buckinghamshire in the UK in order to meet with a still very young looking and thinking Michael New.

I received an excellent grounding in the principles and ethics of AwF and as importantly some excellent contacts, tips and personal support for my new role. Ideas started to be formed and our first flier was printed and my first steps into the world of AwF were made at the recent European Aquaculture Society conference in Edinburgh, where I was ably supported by Roger, Tuti and my wife Janice.

To our great pleasure Michael New joined us at the event, provided us with some very attractive AwF lapel badges made by a supporter of the original charity, and introduced us to other aquaculturists. It was refreshing to meet the wide range of people with differing interests at the Edinburgh-based event, populating this globally, fast-growing form of food production.

My background in land-based agricultural production of farmed animals and crops was put to good use in acquiring further essential knowledge in this new and fascinating world of freshwater and marine food production.

Memories of my youthful days, walking along the UK shoreline, estuaries and rivers and also messing around in inland ponds came rushing back. Having a father with a love of any form of fish and a mother who knew how to turn it into delicious meals has also helped.

Read the full article HERE.

The Aquaculturists
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