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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Sustainable Fisheries for Enhanced Water Resources in Armenia (SFEWRA)

PI: Vardan Urutyan (, International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE)
U.S. Partner: Stephen Schoenholtz, Virginia Water Resources Research Center
Project Dates: October 2015 - June 2019

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4-230 Field Observations 2
4-230 Field Measurements
4-230 Field Observations
The project team made a series of field measurements and observations at the beginning of the project (photos courtesy of Dr. Urutyan).
Project Overview

This project will address the issues of depleting artesian water resources in the Ararat Valley. An increasing numbers of fish farms in the valley have substantially decreased the level of artesian water in the area. Although profitable in current market conditions, these fish farms operate primarily using inefficient water technologies. The first step in the project will be to analyze targeted fish farms in the Ararat Valley to determine the current production models being used and recommend appropriate best practices for water-efficient aquaculture. The researchers will also study the potential for improving discharge water distribution efficiency and discharge water quality for targeted fish farms to agricultural plots in the Ararat Valley. After analyzing the current regulatory framework, the team will then produce recommendations for improved policy for water usage in fish farm production systems and for better management of discharge water. Throughout the process, they will engage key stakeholders to ensure their input is included in the study and to inform them of recommended policies and actions. The U.S. Government-supported partner will contribute by providing expertise about best international practices of operating fish farms and water usage in fish farms.

The key development impacts of the SFEWRA project lie in ensuring more inclusive and sustainable economic growth by fostering sustainable fisheries that use water more efficiently. The project will also build and strengthen the research capacity of ICARE and the various stakeholders involved, establish long-term research relationships, build multidisciplinary team and individual capacity, and enable the collaborators to become more effective partners in research and development related to water. Data-driven decisions, actions, and results are key to providing water for multiple and competing users. The water data collected will be the basis for an Armenian Water Resources Research Center as the collaboration continues beyond the timeline of this project. Research finding and the recommendations will be integrated into the education component of ICARE as short-term training courses or elective courses for undergraduate or graduate level students.

Summary of Recent Activities

During January through March 2019, this PEER team made a total of 21 days of to provide consultancy for the beneficiary fish farms involved in the project, including monitoring and provision of supplies for the implementation of the supplemental project involving remodeling of one farm. The team also printed and distributed their fish diseases handbook to fish farmers, with an additional 50 copies going to the Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU) for further academic use. By the end of March, all of the individual business models the team developed were finally translated into Armenian and distributed among the beneficiary farmers. The proposed models include not only technical details for water-efficient fish farm operations but also consideration of environmental and financial feasibility.

On March 20- 21, 2019, ICARE convened a seminar entitled “Best practices for water efficiency in Ararat Valley fish farming.” They collaborated on the event with staff from the URBAN Foundation as part of their Participatory Utilization and Resource Efficiency of Water (PURE-Water) project, which is also funded by USAID. The seminar featured a year-ending capacity building workshop for representatives of small and/or medium aquaculture farms operating in the Ararat Valley. The main objective was showcasing the best practices of efficient groundwater use by the fish farms involved in these projects. The first day was entirely dedicated to capacity building for fish farms operating in the valley, which also included the assistance in improving the presentation skills of fish farmers for potential donors. Hovhannes Naghashyan, the head of the ANAU Department of Epidemiology and Parasitology, made a presentation about fish diseases, their treatment, and possible outbreak prevention mechanisms. Lilit Harutyunyan, task leader of the USAID ASPIRED project, made a situation review presentation on the current status of the water resources in the Ararat Valley. Then the ICARE research team members worked individually with each of the participating fish farmers to prepare them for the presentations that they were to make the following day at the presence of USAID Country Director Deborah Grieser, Armavir Marz Governor Hambardzum Matevosyan, officials from the Ministry of Nature Protection, and many other stakeholders. The presentations covered best practices of their own efficient activities under conditions of water scarcity. After giving their presentations, the participating farmers were awarded symbolic prizes for their ideas, while the authors of the top three best practices each received water aerators. The SFEWRA team provided the beneficiaries with the translated versions of the economically and environmentally sustainable models of efficient water use that had been developed over the three-and-a-half years of the PEER project for the participating fish farms.

Since the fall of 2018, the PURE-Water and SFEWRA teams have been working with the selected fish farms to disseminate the best practices of efficient water use throughout the entire fish farming sector. The brochure with best management practices was developed by PURE-Water with the collaboration of SFEWRA team members and then printed and disseminated.

With the end of the PEER project approaching as of June 30, 2019, the team at ICARE has succeeded in creating a selected national team of progressive fish farmers who are now capable and willing to work together to address ambitious goals for the sector’s overall development. In the final months of the project, the researchers will be finishing up their analysis of the current regulatory frameworks for water resource usage by fish farms in the Ararat Valley, as well as recommendations for improvements. They will also be putting the finishing touches on the fish farm being remodeled in accordance with their recommendations, as a demonstration of the viability of the business and environmental models. An opening ceremony will be organized in June with invited representatives from the USAID Mission in Yerevan, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Natural Protection, and other stakeholders.

Links to Recent Media Coverage

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