The fisheries sector in Africa suffers from pervasive overexploitation and resource depletion, with serious socio-economic impacts on coastal communities and food security. At the ecosystem level, there was a need to cooperate in addressing these challenges in order to achieve effective and sound management of fisheries resources, including transboundry fish stocks. The barriers to successful cooperation at the Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) and subregional levels were identified as follows:
- Insufficient human and financial resources for international cooperation.
- Inadequate institutional arrangements for coordination and exchange of information.
- Insufficient harmonization of legislation and procedures.
- Insufficient data and analysis of status and trends in transboundary resources.
In view of these concerns, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) sponsored sub-regional LMEs programmes in each of the five LMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa- the Guinea Current LME, the Canary Current LME, the Benguela Current LME, the Agulhas and Somali Current LME. This was the first step towards assisting coastal countries in African Union member states to manage and sustain their fisheries resources and to protect the critical habitats that support them.
Accordingly, the Word Bank prepared a concept note for establishing a strategic partnership for fisheries investment fund in the LMEs of Sub Sahara Africa. There was however a need to align the project concept with AU priorities for sustainable fisheries, Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) frameworks, World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and Millenium Development Goals (MDG) targets. The concept was approved by GEF in 2003 and the World Bank consulted FAO and WWF to serve as partners in the development of the initiative. In 2005, the project was approved by GEF Council.
The project was implemented by AU-IBAR in partnership with FAO and WWF and activities concluded in August 2011.