Africa’s blue revo­lu­tion in tur­bu­lent wa­ters

Africa Renewal - - Opinion - By Pavithra Rao

Africa loses bil­lions of dol­lars each year to il­le­gal, un­re­ported and un­reg­u­lated (IUU) fish­ing, ac­cord­ing to a 2014 re­port by the Africa Progress Panel, an ad­vo­cacy group on sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in Africa led by Kofi An­nan, a for­mer United Na­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral. Ti­tled Grain, Fish, Money: Fi­nanc­ing Africa’s Green and Blue Rev­o­lu­tions, the re­port states that Africa’s mis­man­age­ment and ne­glect of the fish­ery sec­tor re­sult in huge fi­nan­cial losses. Of the $23 bil­lion that the fish­ing com­pa­nies in the US make each year, $1.3 bil­lion comes from West Africa, it states.

The IUU fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties could harm Africa’s hope for a blue revo­lu­tion, an idea to in­crease the pop­u­la­tion of fish in wa­ter bod­ies on the con­ti­nent, ac­cord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( FAO), a UN body on food se­cu­rity.

A num­ber of for­eign fleets par­tic­u­larly from the Euro­pean Union coun­tries, Rus­sia, China, the Philip­pines, South Korea and Tai­wan and en­gaged in il­le­gal fish­ing in Africa. “In Sierra Leone, 252 in­ci­dences of il­le­gal fish­ing by 10 in­dus­trial ves­sels were re­ported over an 18-month pe­riod up to July 2012. In Liberia, over 40 ves­sels have been in­ves­ti­gated for il­le­gal fish­ing since 2011,” says the re­port.

Africa must pay at­ten­tion to fish­ery agree­ments, the re­port ad­vises. Poorly crafted con­tracts pro­vide huge ben­e­fits to for­eign com­pa­nies while at the same time African coun­tries do not have the ca­pac­ity to mon­i­tor large-scale fish­ing.

In­ter­na­tional man­dates such as the FAO-spon­sored In­ter­na­tional Plan of Ac­tion to Pre­vent, De­ter and Elim­i­nate Il­le­gal Un­re­ported and Un­reg­u­lated Fish­ing and the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea could help rein in IUU ac­tiv­i­ties. Just by re­duc­ing IUU in coastal fish­eries, Africa could re­gain up to half of its aqua­cul­ture, which could en­hance food se­cu­rity, cre­ate jobs and ex­pand the econ­omy. But loop­holes in the man­dates and a lack of re­sources for mon­i­tor­ing may make ef­forts to curb IUU ac­tiv­i­ties dif­fi­cult, ex­perts say.

The New Part­ner­ship for Africa’s Devel­op­ment and the FAO are col­lab­o­rat­ing to en­sure that new agree­ments are ro­bustly en­forced. The re­port cites Ice­land as an ex­am­ple of a coun­try that ef­fi­ciently pro­tects its coasts and mon­i­tors its aqua­cul­ture and also as an ex­am­ple of how African coun­tries can strengthen poli­cies and be­gin a blue revo­lu­tion.

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