Africa needs stronger fisheries management, ministers told



Posted on 24 September 2010  | 
Banjul, Gambia: African countries need to take fisheries management seriously, the first ever continental meeting of fisheries ministers has been told.

The Forum of South West Indian Ocean Civil Societies reminded the inaugural Conference of African Ministers on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that 200 Million Africans were dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.

“But despite the significant contribution of the fisheries sector, fisheries management in most African countries has been marginalized,” said Dr. Amani Ngusaru, from WWF.

“Most coastal African countries remain poor despite the vast resources in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones,” added Dr. Ngusaru.

However, the fisheries sector has low priority in national development programmes and in many cases is grossly underfunded.  Governance failure in national and regional fisheries management bodies, the forum said.

Open access has denied most countries and indeed local communities the right to sustainably manage and benefit from their fisheries resources.

In its statement to ministerial conference which concluded Thursday in Banjul, Gambia, the forum said that “the meeting was a timely opportunity to canvass the common issues facing African fisheries and we firmly believe that this meeting should herald the beginning of a new era in management of fisheries resources.”

However, if the fisheries sector is to contribute towards the 6% annual growth of the agricultural sector in Africa, the sector needs to implement an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries and work rapidly to ensure fisheries access agreements are sustainable and equitable.

“Countries also need to mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation, improve fisheries data (including stock assessments), and actively involve civil societies in decision making,” said  Edward Kimakwa of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

“The fisheries sector has greater potential if well developed to spur economic development, offer more employment opportunities and reduce poverty among the local population in Africa,” Dr Ngusaru said.

WWF South Africa, together with four major fishing industry players, namely I&J, Oceana, Sea Harvest and Viking, have launched the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA).
© Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF Enlarge

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