The Fifth General Assembly and Bi-Annual Consultative Meeting of the African Platform for Regional Institutions in Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Systems (APRIFAAS), was organised by AU-IBAR, AUDA-NEPAD, and the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States Bordering the Atlantic (COMHAFAT/ATLFCO). The assembly was convened on October 27 and 28, 2022, in Rabat, Morocco. The assembly’s focus was "Enhancing Institutional Collaboration for Effective and Sustainable Regional Fisheries Management and Aquaculture Development."
Mrs. Patricia Lumba, speaking on behalf of Dr. Nick Nwankpa, Acting Director of AU-IBAR, and Mr. Cheikh Tidjane N'dongo, Acting Head of Food Security Unit, speaking on behalf of CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, set the tone for the Meeting's opening session. Mr. Abdelouahed Benabbou, Executive Secretary of COMHAFAT/ATLAFCO, acknowledged the attendees and formally inaugurated the meeting.
In addition to the opening session, there were three separate technical sessions during the conference: The first technical session focused on the 4th General Assembly's implementation strategy for the 2022-2023 action plan, with the theme "Facilitating the systematic sharing of information across regional organisations." Topics for the second technical session was on: "Improving Dialogue Between Stakeholders and Facilitating the Development of a Harmonized Work Program." The third technical session focused on empowering Africans to stand in unison and openly at international forums and in dialogue with their international partners.
The meeting realised some key outcomes, some of which included: (I) Enhanced information flow between regional bodies in a methodical fashion; (ii) Enhanced interaction among participants, which has helped shape a more cohesive work plan; (iii) Improved African participation in international forums and discussion with partners; and (iv) Renewed interest in and implementation of the APRIFAAS Web platform/ online Community of Practice space.
As a result of the discussions, a number of recommendations were also realised, most notably: The need for the Fisheries Governance 2 Project to extend project meetings in AU islands to improve coordination. The need to strengthen Africa's presence in global forums through stronger AU member participation. Regional Sea Conventions, Regional Fisheries Bodies, and Regional Economic Communities need to understand the benefits of active involvement in Global Fora, such as access to research monies needed to address the Continent's research shortfall, and the meeting asked the secretariat to present a list of qualified institutions to invite to the 6th General Assembly.
The meeting was attended by 39 people, mostly from Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs): Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), Commission Régionale des Pêches (COREP), Fisheries Committee for the West Central (FCWC), Sub-regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC): Large Marine Ecosystem: Benguela Current Convention; Regional Sea Convention: Abidjan Convention; Regional Economic Communities: Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Arab Magreb Union (UMA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); Water Based Commissions: Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA), Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC); Other members were MOSFA and INFOPECHE; African Union Centers of Excellence Suez University and the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NAFIRRI). Staff from AU-IBAR, AUDA-NEPAD, and COMHAFAT/ATLFCO attended.
Prior to the 5th APRIFAAS General Assembly, a meeting on the Validation and Operationalization of Framework for Effective Anchorage Between RECs, RFBs and RSCs was held from 25-26 October, 2022 in Rabat, Morocco. The validation meeting is a component of ongoing work under the general theme of Strengthening Stakeholders’ Engagement, Role and Consultative Mechanisms in the African Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector being undertaken by the Africa Union Centre of Excellence – the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI), with the purposes to:
• Review and propose mechanisms for rationalisation of existing fisheries and aquaculture platforms and networks;
• Propose a framework for anchorage with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and relevant Regional Fisheries Organisations;
• Undertake mapping studies to conduct inventory of Non-State Actors in fisheries and aquaculture in Africa and upload into an online, user-friendly and updatable database.
The participation of AU-IBAR at these meetings was in accordance with interventions of the European Union-funded Fisheries Governance 2 Project, that is implemented jointly by AU-IBAR and AUDA-NEPAD.