Civil Society Organizations help drive Marine Fisheries Policy Reforms in the Coastal East Africa Region



Posted on 17 April 2013  | 
Yellowfin Tuna caught off the coast of Mombasa in Kenya
© John KabubuEnlarge
The days of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) being relegated to the periphery in key marine fisheries decision and policy-making processes are fast coming to an end following various interventions by WWF’s Coastal East Africa Initiative (WWF-CEAI) and other stakeholders in the Coastal East Africa region.

The formation of the Tuna Fishery Alliances such as the Tuna Fishery Alliance of Kenya (TuFAK), have provided an opportunity for CSOs to have a broader understanding of marine fisheries related issues, which have placed them in a position where they can influence national and regional marine fisheries policy reforms and management from an informed point.

CSOs involvement in tuna fisheries policy and reforms is expected to drive the Coastal East Africa states of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique towards a direction where they may derive more sustainable benefits from tuna resources. This, in turn, will support economic development through increased revenue generation, enhanced income to local communities and employment creation.

According to WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative’s Fisheries Programme Officer Edward Kimakwa, CSOs are playing roles they never had the opportunity to play before:

“In Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, CSOs have been involved in the development of the respective National Tuna fisheries management strategies which have now been finalized with the support of WWF. We expect that the these strategies, once fully implemented by all key stakeholders, will play an important role in ensuring that tuna fisheries resources are utilized sustainably for the benefit of all,” said Mr. Kimakwa.

Mr. Kimakwa further commended national fisheries management organizations and regional fisheries management bodies for giving CSOs and Non-Governmental Organizations this space. A similar process of developing the national tuna strategy with the participation of CSOs has been initiated in Madagascar.

In a rapid departure from the past where Civil Society Organizations were sidelined in important discussions and decisions involving marine fisheries resources, CSOs are now key fixtures in major forums through out Africa.

At regional level, the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) CSO tuna forum significantly influenced the outcomes of the 1st Conference of African Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that was held in Banjul, the Gambia in 2010. The 1st CAMFA adopted most of the recommendations that were presented by the CSOs, including those from the SWIO.

Also, during The 3rd session of the South Western Indian Ocean (SWIO) Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Consultative Forum on tuna fisheries held on the 6th -7th of December 2012 in Mombasa Kenya and supported by WWF, SWIO range states Governments were urged to implement marine fisheries management and conservation decisions that they have since passed under the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) to the letter.

During the aforementioned meeting, the Chairman of TuFAK, Becha Hadley, noted that the current state of fisheries access arrangements does often not favour the SWIO states that own tuna resources:

“The present generation of fisheries access arrangements are of little benefit to SWIO coastal and island states that own invaluable tuna resources,” said Mr. Hadley.

CSOs are therefore contributing to SWIO Coastal and Island states moving towards a common approach and voice that will help them secure a better deal in all external negotiations that relate to Tuna and other migratory species in the Indian Ocean region. Various studies have indicated that less than a tenth of the benefits of the fisheries flow to African countries.

SWIO governments are steadily buying into CSOs call and had a common position of “like minded coastal and island states” during the recent Tuna Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Quota Allocation (QA) Criteria technical session that was convened by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission in Oman in February 2013. This sent a strong signal to the whole world that it is no longer business as usual on tuna matters in the SWIO region.

By Peter Scheren, Edward Kimakwa and John Kabubu 
Yellowfin Tuna caught off the coast of Mombasa in Kenya
© John Kabubu Enlarge

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