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[LILONGWE] African leaders agreed last week to act to avert an imminent shortage of fish supplies across the continent.

According to an action plan unanimously endorsed on 25 August in Abuja, Nigeria, nations will aim to boost fish supplies by making capture fisheries more sustainable and by promoting small-scale fish farming.

The action plan highlights the role of science in boosting Africa’s fish supplies. It stresses the need for new research and development, as well as capacity building and technology transfer.

“Regional capacity for research and development needs to be strengthened and technical expertise in the region needs to be supported through networking and improved communications,” it states.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only world region where fish consumption is declining. Researchers believe that unless the situation is addressed, Africa will not meet the UN millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people who are hungry by 2015 (see Africa 'must farm fish to beat hunger').

Particular sectors the plan identifies for research include water management and technologies for handling fish after they have been harvested.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development organised the Abuja summit.