African Union and the Marine Stewardship Council Collaborate to Build Capacity on Sustainable Fisheries in Africa

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© 2016 AU-IBAR. Group photo of participants at the training workshop designed to build capacity for  African fisheries.© 2016 AU-IBAR. Group photo of participants at the training workshop designed to build capacity for African fisheries.Yaoundé, Cameroon, 14 December 2015, – A training workshop designed to build capacity for African fisheries to benefit from certification and ecolabelling held in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 14th to 19th December 2015.

The five-day workshop was organized by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) with support from NEPAD and other organisations including African Ecolabelling Mechanisms and African Regional Standards Organisation.

The event provided a platform for participants to use international sustainable fisheries standards as a tool to improve fisheries and help protect livelihoods and economic development.

Participants from 15 African countries, drawn from government fisheries department, scientists and experts as well as the private sector gathered in Yaoundé the Cameroonian Capital City to build their knowledge and skills on fisheries improvements and certification.

“The African Union Policy framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS) recognizes the importance of fisheries trade to food security and livelihoods. A key policy area in the PFRS is to promote “Responsible and Equitable Fish Trade and Marketing,” said Director AU-IBAR/ Chief of Mission, Prof. Ahmed A. Elsawalhy.

With the growing global interest in supply of sustainable seafood an increasing number of fisheries around the world are using the MSC’s internationally recognized Fishery Standard to promote sustainable fishing, but representation from Africa is low. The workshop was aimed at building stakeholders’ capacity to ensure that more African fisheries are able to embark on the journey to sustainability and certification.

Oluyemisi Oloruntuyi is the Head of MSC’s Developing World Program. She says “the workshop is a major step towards increasing availability of expertise in the region on fisheries improvement projects and fishery certification and ultimately promoting responsible fish trade and marketing in the region”. We expect to hold more of these capacity building events to support stakeholders working to improve fisheries to the level of MSC requirements.

© 2016 AU-IBAR. Dr. Simplice Nouala addressing participants at the Workshop.© 2016 AU-IBAR. Dr. Simplice Nouala addressing participants at the Workshop.The capacity building and training workshop focused on Introductory and Advanced training modules. The content included; evaluation of data-limited fisheries against the MSC standard, the gap analysis process, comprehensive training on the MSC’s fishery sustainability standard and diagnosis of case studies of improvement actions towards sustainability and certification.

The overarching objective of the capacity building event was to increase awareness and understanding amongst fisheries stakeholders to facilitate uptake of FIPs and ensure the skills required for successful implementation are available on the continent.

The specific objectives included:

  • Increase the awareness of FIPs as a route to certification and the role of certification as a trade and conservation tool.
  • Increase stakeholder capacity to initiate and implement successful Fishery Improvement Projects that lead to MSC certification.
  • Increase the availability of fishery managers and scientists and local experts in Africa that are able to undertake assessment of fisheries against the MSC standard.
  • Increase the number of fisheries that are participating in FIPs, improving towards certification and ultimately increasing access to markets requesting sustainable seafood.

In a communique issued at the end of the workshop, participants came up with some recommendations key among which are:

  • Organizing similar regional training programmes for AU MS in partnership with MSC providing the resource persons in training of trainers;
  • Facilitating the shadowing of MSC assessors during full assessment and site visits;
  • Mentorship programme as part of capacity building for developing countries;
  • MSC to explore the possibility of partnering with relevant universities for capacity building in AU MS;
  • Development of an inventory of fisheries assessment experts by the MSC in collaboration with the AU-IBAR and NEPAD Agency.