A workshop to launch a regional Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) pre-assessment for South Western Indian Ocean Octopus Fisheries was held on the 15th and 16th of March 2017, at the Zanzibar Beach Resort in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania. The meeting was sponsored by the AU-IBAR and MSC and included participants from Fisheries Departments and regional partnership bodies. The primary objective of the meeting was to agree on support for the pre-assessment project amongst participating countries, with a long-term view to establishing FIPs for regional octopus fisheries.
Specifically, the meeting sought to:
- Highlight the commitment by AU member states to sustainable management of seafood resources.
- Increase awareness of FIPs as a route to certification and the role of certification as a tool to promote trade and conservation.
- Promote the MSC standard and supporting tools as a framework for the design and implementation of FIPs.
- Introduce the concept of regional multi-state fishery pre-assessments.
- Gain technical and political insight into what would be necessary for a successful regional pre-assessment project for SWIO octopus fisheries.
The meeting was opened by Dr Islam Seif Salum, representing the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries, Honourable Hamad Rashid Mohamed, who outlined the commitment by Zanzibar to the sustainable development of its fisheries, in particular octopus. The agenda was structured to include: an overview of global octopus trade; country updates by Tanzania Zanzibar, Tanzania Mainland, Kenya, Comoros, Mozambique, Rodrigues (Mauritius) and Madagascar; case studies looking at octopus FIP processes in Tanzania (WWF) and Madagascar (Blue Ventures) and introduction to Project Pre-Assessments (MSC).
Breakout groups discussed what would be required for a successful outcome to the regional pre-assessment and FIP project. The groups addressed key questions that looked into activities, challenges, capacity requirements, partnerships, collaborative projects and project management.
The meeting made the following recommendations:
Coordination of FIP activities with partners: Organisations identified for collaboration in the execution of the project included, AU-IBAR, SWIOFC, Africa Development Bank, Tanzania (Mainland and Zanzibar) Octopus Working Group, CGP and MIHARI networks, Rodrigues Octopus Steering Group, Blue Ventures, Mwambao, Marine Culture, CORDIO, FFEM, Fenamby, WIOMSA, WWF, IOC and Northern Mozambique Channel Initiative.
- Ensuring government engagement: Options suggested to ensure governments involvement included: binding MoUs between participating countries and the relevant country or regional projects (such as SWIOFish) coordinators; anchoring of the SWIO Octopus FIP programme at the SWIOFC to facilitate planning and implementation of the projects through the SWIOFC committee meetings ( a follow up action would be to approach SWIOFC for inclusion of FIP agenda in the March 2017 meeting); and a dedicated focal person to oversee FIP engagement would be necessary. The meeting noted with gratification the important role the EU funded AU-IBAR FishGov project played in driving the SWIO FIP process to the current level and suggested the need for the continuation of the FishGov project to catalyse the development and implementation of the SWIO Octopus FIP action plan.
- Increasing regional capacity: The need to build capacity in Monitoring and Evaluation, understanding of the MSC Fishery Standard, development of linkages between different research projects with activities similar to the FIP’s action plan; establishment of sustainable systems for data collection and sharing and establishment of, a registered group of competent regional technical assessors.
- Addressing project challenges: Setting up formal units to coordinate FIPs and to address issues of project finance, liaison with community stakeholders and support development of supply chain linkages and infrastructure.
- Establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation unit: Put in place dedicated personnel who will be tasked with evaluating measures including stock health, livelihoods status, value of shared platforms and coordination between stakeholders.
- Setting up of a project steering group: The group should be representative of all participating countries and organisations and include regional and national elements. The Structure and Terms of Reference for the group can be derived from existing projects such as EAF Nansen.
- Establishment of a communications strategy: The strategic approach adopted is to make use of a range of communication channels (print, electronic, social media). Communications should have an emphasis on sharing information between national teams and respective governments.
The workshop concluded with agreement by all attendees to support a project that will map octopus fishing activities in the SWIO region and subject the identified fishing units to pre-assessment against the MSC Fishery Standard. It was understood that based on the outcomes of the pre-assessments, the target fisheries would develop action plans and progress towards implementation of FIPs, with the potential to enter MSC assessment in the future. It was further anticipated that governments, regional organisations, fishing and processing industry, the NGO and CBO sectors would drive the process.
Adoption of the Communique
- Tanzania moved the motion for delegates to adopt the communique which was seconded by Mozambique and supported by Kenya.
- The participants thanked the Government of Zanzibar for hosting this important event and the enabling conducive atmosphere.
Closing statements were made by Ms Yemi Oloruntuyi Head, Developing World Program of the Marine Stewardship Council, Mr. Obinna Anozie on behalf of the Director of AU-IBAR and Dr Zahor el Kharousy, Deputy Director of Fisheries at the Department of Fisheries, Zanzibar, on behalf of the Hon Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock & Fisheries of Zanzibar.