By Brenda Zulu
Reform is needed urgently to reverse the current trend of decline and waste that characterises African fisheries, and to enable these to contribute sustainably to economic growth, food security, nutrition, and healthy ecosystems.
Presenting at the Conference of African Ministers of fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA), Dr Steve Donado said achieving effective reform requires tackling the political, institutional and economic constraints to more effective fisheries governance and trade.
He explained that currently fisheries resources provide significant benefits to Africa, which include livelihoods to about 10 million people, nutrition and food security to over 30% of the population, and $4.3 billion per year of revenues from international trade.
“The Wealth Generation Opportunities of African Fish Resources paper indicated that to realise the massive potential in the African fisheries, the real challenge for the Fisheries Managers is therefore, to create an enabling environment that provides fishers with incentives and confidence to invest in the fish resource itself. This requires Policy and Governance reform,” said Donda.
He added that the Fisheries policy needs to take resource wealth into consideration in order to secure current benefits and to enhance fisheries contribution to economic growth and social welfare.
There is also need to establish an agreed vision for fisheries in Africa. “The visioning exercise will help set the scene for the subsequent construction and delivery of policy and success indicators,” he said.
He pointed out that a good governance framework was required for the delivery of the strategy, given that many fisheries were potentially extremely valuable assets.
Donda added that the fundamental principles of good governance were accountability, transparency and participation which should underpin policy development
“A stakeholder-based fishery management planning process provides an effective mechanism to put these key principles of good governance in practice,” he said.
He pointed out that the evidence from international best practice suggests that the key issues are defining fisheries management units (FMUs) in an appropriate way, Participatory diagnosis of the current economic and ecological performance in each FMU, Participatory analysis of the wealth potential using bio economic modelling to enhance transparency and legitimacy, Policy and governance reform offers the opportunity for significant change in the way Africa’s fish resources are exploited.
In terms of benefits, Dondo said the headline benefit will be the generation of resource wealth and the use of this wealth to the benefit of Africans.
Such reform will also contribute to delivering other desirable outcomes including the reduction and gradual elimination of wasteful and destructive overcapacity, a progressive recovery of fish stocks, and an improvement in the quality of fish on the market
Policy and governance reform offers the opportunity for significant change in the way Africa’s fish resources are exploited.
Resource-wealth benefits can be achieved without the sacrifice of other benefits. Economically-efficient fisheries will still produce fish as food, arguably more sustainably, of better quality and of greater value.