The Regional workshop on strengthening the capacity for negotiating for Fair and Sustainable Fisheries Access Arrangements in Eastern and Southern Africa was jointly organized by the African Union- Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, with support from the European Union, in Maputo, from 25th to 27th February 2016.
The overall objective of this training workshop was to equip the African fisheries experts/administrators with the necessary skills and knowledge for enhancing their ability to successfully negotiate for granting access to fishing fleets, processing technologies or any related fisheries investments in order to promote equitable and sustainable access agreements in Africa. This was an advanced and expanded part of a series of workshops organized by the AU-IBAR on the negotiation of sustainable fisheries access agreements in Africa, the first and second in the series having been held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in June 2012 and Douala Cameroon in December, 2012 for negotiating fishing access arrangements for shared at regional level.
The training was attended by 39 participants drawn from relevant representatives of 11 African Union Member States (AU MS) namely Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, South Africa, Seychelles, Djibouti, Regional Economic Communities (RECs – COMESA, SADC, IGAD), Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFBs – SWIOFC, LTA), relevant partners/NGOs (WWF), experts and as well as relevant members of staff of the AU-IBAR.
At the opening session Mr. Aubrey Harris, the Executive Secretary of the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) remarked that this would certainly build the capacity for AU Member states to negotiate for fair and sustainable fisheries access agreements. He emphasized the need for developing coastal states to derive more benefits from their fisheries resources. Mr. Obinna Anozie the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Analyst of AU-IBAR FishGov Project in an opening statement on behalf of Prof. Ahmed A. Elsawalhy the Director of AU-IBAR expressed gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Mozambique for accepting to host the meeting and underscored the contribution of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the national economy of AU MS. He was optimistic that the training will go a long way in building and enhancing the capacity of AU MS in negotiating for fair and sustainable fisheries access arrangements with foreign fishing nations. Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo, the representative of SADC, highlighted the importance of fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector in SADC member states, including food and nutritional security, income, foreign exchange and employment creation and noted some of the SADC member states are now about to renew their fisheries protocol with the Distant Water Fishing Nations and the training was timely.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters Resources and Fisheries Dr. Narci Premegi in Mozambique on behalf of the Minister formally opened the meeting. He appreciated the initiatives of the AU-IBAR and expressed the commitment of Mozambique to the implementation of the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa and the Malabo declaration on poverty and hunger eradication. He urged the participants to be productive and bring out good recommendations to chat the way forward on the subject matter. He officially declared the meeting open.
The technical session besides highlighting Fisheries access agreements in the SWIO region in global perspective within the context of socio-economic, legal and political aspects among others also gave adequate coverage to the following;
- Review of the past and present foreign fisheries access arrangements in selected AU Member States from the Northern, Eastern and Southern Africa. The report was comprehensively and elaborately discussed by the participants who provided positive feedback to enrich the document. AU-IBAR was requested to share the document with the participants for further comments.
- Presentations on experiences and lessons learnt on fisheries access arrangements were made by representatives of the national fisheries administrations from the following countries; Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and South Africa.
- Interventions in promoting sustainable and equitable fisheries access arrangements in the SWIO region, including Regional Minimum Terms and Conditions for Fisheries Access and Maputo declaration. Participants welcomed and commended WWF’s initiative to this end.
- Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Implementing Minimum Terms and Conditions of Access.
The meeting among others came up with the following outcomes;
- Increased understanding and enhanced knowledge of participants on the current/past fisheries access arrangements in the SWIO region.
- Capacities of the participants, including the relevant officials of National Fisheries Competent Authorities were enhanced in the area of negotiating for fair and sustainable fisheries management, including skills and tactics.
- The training provided a good opportunity for the countries to share experiences and lessons on the challenges and issues related to access arrangements for shared fish stocks, a common approach in engaging with the foreign fishing vessels, mutual on fisheries access agreements, resource management and conservation.
- The meeting enriched the report of the consultancy on fisheries access arrangements in selected countries which identified priority areas and proposed actions for consideration to inform the formulation of the action plan to advance regional cooperation on fisheries access arrangements consistent with the policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa.
- The meeting recommended scaling up regional and continental approach within the AU/RECs framework to negotiate for fisheries access agreements.