Since 2004, the African Union (AU) has given the fisheries sector the attention it requires to grow and the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) has demonstrated its commitment to support and develop the fisheries in Africa to ensure the sector contributes to the continent's economic growth. As a start, the fisheries issues are now well covered in the newly developed AU-IBAR Strategic Plan.
The Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have a wealth of globally significant marine biodiversity with some of the world's most fertile fishing grounds, many of which are transboundary. It is estimated that some 2.7 million people in the region are engaged in coastal and inland fishing activities on a full or part-time basis, for both subsistence and commerce. Fish also provides about 23% of total animal protein intake in sub-Saharan Africa, significantly higher than the global average of 16%. The estimated value of net exports of fish products for the continent in 2001 was US$ 1.7 billion, exceeding the net foreign exchange income reported for any other agricultural commodity.
Many governments in sub-Saharan Africa do not have the financial resources or capacity to prevent overexploitation of their fisheries resources or to protect the critical habitats that support them. The regional fisheries management organizations in sub-Saharan Africa do not have sufficient funds to assist individual coastal countries to implement the needed governance reforms in fisheries. Taking cognizance of these needs, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) availed the Sustainable Fisheries Investment Fund for SSA country and regional-level projects to address the fisheries management and coastal communities' poverty challenges.
Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries Investment Fund (SPFIF) project
The project has two components: the Sustainable Fisheries Investment Fund component to assist countries better manage their fisheries; and the Strategic Partnership component that assists to disseminate lessons learned from investments facilitated by the Fund. The project is advised by stakeholders led by the African Union through a Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) with a secretariat based at the AU-IBAR, Nairobi, Kenya.