South west indian ocean countries adopt key fisheries reforms
These key fisheries reforms, initiated since 2011, are expected to strengthen shared fish stocks sustainability and increase benefits to South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) countries, including fishing communities across all the coastal countries.
The Director of the Fisheries Department Division of Tanzania Mr. Hosea Mbilinyi notes that this decision has come about as a result of years of hard work and many discussions aimed at helping the millions of people in the SWIO region benefit socially and economically from sustainably managed fisheries.
“This is an important moment for the SWIO region, and the climax of a very long and hard work, done by the SWIO member countries, with full, selfless and visionary support from WWF and other partners, under the Working Party for Coordination and Cooperation in Tuna Fisheries (WPCCTF) of SWIOFC, since its establishment in October 2012. We are both proud and encouraged by this achievement because the region is decisively walking towards securing sustainable regional fisheries to maximise the social and economic benefits for our countries and people,” said Mr. Mbilinyi
These two instruments are part of a process to build a strong political coalition within the SWIO region, including the establishment of the Working Party on Coordination and Cooperation in Tuna Fisheries (WPCCTF), to strengthen regional cooperation to secure sustainable fisheries and maximise social and economic benefits, as well as the signing of the Maputo Declaration on MTC by Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. In particular, the regional MTC aims at expanding the scope of the Maputo Declaration to the entire SWIO region, securing more equity in benefit sharing with Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN), promoting and ensuring improved regional cooperation for conservation and sustainable management of highly migratory and shared tuna fisheries stocks and increasing regional capacity for decision making.
Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique are in the process of updating their legislation to also address the relevant aspects of the Maputo Declaration. The Director General of Deep Sea Fishing Authority of Tanzania, Mr. Zahor El Kharousy, in this regard notes that:
“Tanzania is currently implementing the Maputo Declaration on Regional Minimum Terms and Conditions, signed in August 2014 in Maputo, by Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania, through the Deep Sea Fishing Authority Regulations Amendment, altering the license fees, which entered in force on 1st of July 2015, and have been implemented smoothly since the start of the current fishing season. This shows that moving together is the only way for us to secure sustainable shared fish stocks and maximize socio-economic benefits,” said Mr. Zahor.
The SWIO Fisheries Accord aims to promote a common approach in engaging the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) and relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs), including common/harmonised implementation of adopted conservation and management measures. It further aims to promote regionally harmonised and cost-shared scientific research, address maritime boundaries and ensure mutually compatible fisheries access arrangements with Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFN) amongst others.
The regional MTC and the SWIO Fisheries Accord are expected to be improved technically under the coordination of the Working Party for Coordination and Collaboration in Tuna Fisheries (WPCCTF), for adoption by the Commission, and future implementation. Currently there are draft protocols for both instruments, produced by WWF and Africa Union Inter-Agency for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), and further improved by the SWIO countries with support from WWF, IOC-Smartfish Project and SWIOFish1 Project.
These achievements have been made possible through technical and financial support from WWF, in close collaboration with SWIOFC, AU-IBAR, Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)-Smartfish Project (funded by EU), and the SWIOFish1 Project (funded by the World Bank).
By John Kabubu, Domingos Gove and Peter Scheren