Directors meet to chart way forward for tuna fisheries



Posted on 28 August 2014  | 
A fisherman holds his tuna catch for the day caught off the coast of Kenya. Tuna fisheries are thought to be worth between $3-$5 billion annually but remain largely underexploited in Africa.
© John KabubuEnlarge
The Fisheries Directors of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are in Maputo this week to discuss how the three countries can find ways to benefit from a lucrative global tuna industry that is currently grossly underexploited by the coastal East Africa nations. Currently, the three countries receive meagre benefits from the global Tuna industry which is benefiting Distant Water Fishing Nations more than the three countries. It is estimated that Tuna is worth between $3 to $5 billion annually.

Utilising both technical and financial support from WWF, the Director’s aim to exchange information and experiences, identify common aspects that could eventually be jointly addressed within the Regional Minimum Terms and Conditions for granting fishing access to foreign fleets, explore ways that can improve efficiency in tuna fisheries management, reduce fisheries monitoring and surveillance costs and maximise socio-economic benefits for the three nations.

This meeting comes against a backdrop of the government of Mozambique recently becoming the third African country to ratify the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) which is aimed at, amongst other reasons, reducing significantly Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in Mozambique. Illegal fishing is responsible for $10-$23.5 billion loss from the global economy each year. Coastal nations including Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique bear the brunt of these losses.

South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) countries, including the three states, obtain the socio-economic benefits from the exploitation of tuna fisheries resources occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zones, almost totally through private licenses and/or fisheries access agreements with foreign fleets or Distant Water Fishing Nations, mainly from the EU and Asia.

Currently, the three coastal East Africa states benefit the least from marine fisheries within the South West Indian Ocean region, with the percentage of the value of catch fished in each of these countries in the international markets averaging a low 2.4% to 6.8% of revenues, mainly obtained through Fisheries Access Agreements. In addition, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique have little to no infrastructural investments like fishing harbours, processing plants, adequate docking and vessel supporting infrastructure to allow for maximum benefit through marine fisheries as is the case in other coastal nations.

The meeting to take place from 28th to 29th August is expected to fast track the current SWIO regional process for developing Minimum Terms and Conditions coordinated by the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), with support from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, SADC, African Union, the World Bank and GEF.

By John Kabubu and Domingos Gove

 
A fisherman holds his tuna catch for the day caught off the coast of Kenya. Tuna fisheries are thought to be worth between $3-$5 billion annually but remain largely underexploited in Africa.
© John Kabubu Enlarge

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