The Africa Progress Panel has said that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Africa’s coastal waters is having huge economic and social costs on dependent communities, including West African Commonwealth countries Ghana and Nigeria
The Africa Progress Panel has said that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Africa’s coastal waters is having huge economic and social costs on dependent communities, including West African Commonwealth countries Ghana and Nigeria.
The fishing industry supports millions of Africans who rely on the trade for jobs, income and food.
Foreign fleets, however, have been plundering coastal natural resources, often illegally, resulting in a theft of revenue.
Furthermore, overfishing is reducing fish stocks which destroys fishing communities and harms the marine environment.
A report by the Africa Progress Panel (APP) in 2014, Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions, found that one large trawler could catch 250 tons of fish in one day, the same volume as 50 small local fishing boats could catch in a year.
Furthermore, it estimated that IUU fishing costs West Africa US$1.3 billion per year, and the halting of this activity could lead to 300,000 new jobs being generated if the West African fishing industry received adequate investment, according to a report by the Overseas Development Institute.
The APP has stressed that increased global responses and improved transparency is essential in improving the governance of Africa’s natural resources, so that its potential wealth can be realised and appropriately distributed.
It has welcomed the introduction of two international measures to halt the plunder of Africa’s vital ocean resources.
The first is the 2009 Port State Measures Agreement, an international treaty aimed at tackling IUU fishing.
The second, the global Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), is the first voluntary international agreement to set global standards on the kind of participation and transparency needed to support sustainable fisheries management.
It was first adopted in Bali in April, 2017.
So far, five countries have committed to implementing the FiTI, including Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal and the Seychelles.
The APP is urging all coastal and island African countries to join, and for all civil society groups to use the new FiTI Standard platform to encourage improvements in fisheries governance and ensure government intervention, if necessary.
APP member and FiTI founder Peter Eigen said: “Still too often, even basic information about the fisheries sector remains out of the public domain.
“The FiTI Standard is coming at a crucial point in time, where we all must work together to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources.
“It sets clear requirements on what is expected from countries regarding transparency and multi-stakeholder participation in fisheries.”
Kofi Annan, Chair of the APP, said: “Natural resource plunder is organized theft disguised as commerce.
“Commercial trawlers that operate under flags of convenience, and unload in ports that do not record their catch, are unethical.”
Read More: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales points out the vital importance of the oceans to all life on earth, and urges Commonwealth countries to play a positive role in ensuring that worthy commitments are turned into practical action