The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) in collaboration with the government of Kenya and with support from the European Union organised a Consultative Meeting to establish Mechanisms for the Coordination of Common Position and Voice, and to provide support to AU Member States in the implementation of recommendations of Relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). The meeting was held from 23 to 24 March 2017 in Mombasa, KENYA.
The specific objectives of the workshop were to:(i) assess the current status of the African Union Member States participation in the governance of RFMO; (ii) assess the availability of knowledge and data and identify apparent critical information gaps to measure the contribution of RFMO to the AU member States economy; (iii) assess the constraints, including institutional and policy environment affecting implementation of recommendation/resolutions and other compliance issues of RFMO by AU Member States; (iv) identify priority actions to improve and consolidate the effective participation of AU Member States in the deliberations of RFMOs and contribute to their strengthening for effective governance of high Seas fisheries resources.
The meeting was attended by African Union Member states including, Angola, Gabon, Kenya, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Sudan and Mauritania. Regional Economic Communities (RECs) were represented by Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA). Regional Fisheries Bodies present were: the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), the Fisheries Committee for West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), The Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO) and the Fisheries Commission for the Gulf of Guinea (COREP). Worldwide Life Fund, CARDNO and AU-IBAR were also represented. Two consultants and two experts were also present. The meeting had 28 participants.
The meeting was officially opened by Ms. Jane Njeri Kinya, Deputy Director of Fisheries at the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy, Kenya, on behalf of the Hon Minister of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries of the Republic of Kenya. Dr. Mohamed Seisay made a statement on behalf of the Director of AU-IBAR. Dr. Eshete Dejen also made a good will opening statement on behalf of the RECs.
Mr. Samuel Quaatey, Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Ghana chaired the workshop.
The workshop was structured as follows:
- Workshop background and context – the following presentations were made:
- Workshop background, objectives and expected outcomes
- Presentation of general principles, structure and objectives of International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
- Exchange of experiences on strategy to increase and consolidate the African Voice in the governance and management of high seas fisheries,
- Assessment of the current status of AU MS participation in RFMOs (mainly ICCAT, IOTC);
- Contributions by selected Member States: Seychelles, Angola, Kenya, and Gabon focusing variously on assessment of opportunities, lessons, and constraints in RFMOs. They also discussed the institutional, technical and policy environment affecting AU-MS compliance with the conservation and management measures adopted by RFMOs.
- Guidance and Reference Documents for the meeting - the following presentations were made by the Consultants and meeting facilitators:
- Assessment of the constraints, including institutional , technical and policy environment affecting compliance by AU MS with conservation and management measures adopted by RFMOs;
- Identifying priority actions to improve and consolidate the effective participation of AU MS in deliberations of RFMOs and contributing to their strengthening for effective governance of high seas fisheries
- Working Groups were established to discuss the issues raised by the guidance and reference documents provided by the Consultants.
Outcomes of the workshop
- AU member states were enlightened on the principles, mandate and responsibilities of RFMOs (ICCAT and IOTC), including their rights and obligations, as well as the benefits of effectively participating in RFMOs relevant to them.
- The workshop identified the range of challenges faced by AU-MS with respect to (1) effective participation in RFMOs; (2) establishment of common African positions in RFMOs and other relevant international forums.
- The meeting developed a mechanism for coordinating common position and providing a coherent voice for AU MS within RFMOs and other relevant international forums.
Conclusions and Recommendations
A significant number of recommendations were put forward. Key recommendations made were as follows:
- AU-IBAR should rapidly operationalize this mechanism within existing structures.
- AU-IBAR should ensure that there is appropriate linkage and effective coordination of this mechanism with other relevant institutions and organizations.
- AU-IBAR should ensure that there is technical support to secure full and effective participation of AU-MS in relevant international fora and emerging agenda such as combating IUU, supporting the Blue Economy, Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG14), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), FAO Committee on Fisheries(COFI)
- AU-IBAR should take proactive and appropriate step to secure funding to support the mechanism
- The meeting observed a strong need for capacity-building programmes so as to address identified gaps in establishing the proposed African Voice for Fisheries and also to ensure MS derive full benefits from RFMOs
The meeting expressed appreciation and thanked the Government of Kenya for hosting the workshop and providing an enabling and conducive environment for this important event.
A goodwill closing statement was delivered by the Executive Secretary of ATLAFCO, Mr Benabbou Abdelouahed.
Closing statements were then made by Dr. Mohamed Seisay on behalf of the Director of AU-IBAR and Ms. Jane Njeri Kinya, Deputy Director of Fisheries at the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy, Kenya, She spoke on behalf of the Hon Minister of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries of the Republic of Kenya.