The AU-IBAR in collaboration with the NEPAD Agency and support from the European Union organized a three day capacity building workshop on strengthening negotiating capacity in a regional approach to fair and sustainable fisheries access agreement in the West and Central Africa.
The workshop held in Dakar Senegal, brought together about seventy participants from the coastal states of the AU MS as well as other persons from many jurisdictions concerned with the agreements negotiations (fisheries, trade, and justice), the private sector, NGOs and for the first time, the media.
The main objective of the workshop was to provide adequate resources for fisheries experts to negotiate favorable agreements with their countries.
It was the third in series of such capacity building workshop organized by the African Union Commission, through the African Union Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) shortly following one recently organized for the East and Southern Africa in February, 2016.
A brief formal opening ceremony on Monday 28 March was chaired by the Senegalese Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, Mr. Oumar Gueye who underscored the need to reverse the trend of over exploitation of fishery resources which he said was threatening food security and economic sustainability.
The Minister Oumar Gueye in his address congratulated the AU / IBAR for organizing the seminar. On the theme, he emphasized, "is a news and an obvious centrality" in order to harmonize positions and legislation to "stop overfishing in Africa." He reaffirmed his country's support to this process.
He however regretted African counties negotiate as individual blogs against well-structured and untied blogs like others usually do to the detriment of the continent and called for a concerted effort and coordinated approach to reversing this trend "we should not have fishing agreement codes in our individual countries, let’s have a deeper reflection on how to negotiate with well organized groups who speak with one voice, the whole of Africa must negotiate from a single stand point".
The Director of the AU-IBAR, represented by Dr Simplice Nouala, Head of Animal Production Unit in his welcome remarks acknowledged the hospitality and availability of the Senegalese government to the African Union. He highlighted the main problems raised by fisheries agreements negotiated in Africa, including their "lack in commercial devices that support the massive export of fishery products" and low impact assessment mechanisms of these various agreements on the exploitation of fishery resources. He also wished "strong involvement of ministries responsible for fisheries" in negotiating future agreements.
The three days of capacity building workshop enabled the participants to captivate the conceptual tools and techniques of negotiation of fisheries agreements, to share the experience of some countries to carry out group work on negotiating regional agreements, simulate case negotiations (between African countries and bilateral or multilateral foreign powers). Experts also presented the results of various studies on best practice in negotiating fair and durable agreements, the mastery of international legal instruments, and evaluation of fisheries agreements signed by some member countries of the African Union.
Major outcome of the workshop include but not limited as follows:
- The adoption of the Report on the evaluation of past and present fishing agreements, signed by some AU member countries;
- Formulation of recommendations of by three distinct thematic working groups (based on RFBs formation – COREP, FCWC and SRFC) on regional cooperation in negotiating fishing agreements.
The AU-IBAR in its closing remarks assured it’s availability for technical support to Member States, national and regional organizations in negotiating fishing agreements that preserve the interests of the continent and the sustainability of its fisheries resources.