“This meeting offers an opportunity for the region and its non-state actors who are active in fisheries and aquaculture, to align with the policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa (PFRS),” Dr Hamady Diop, NEPAD Agency’s Head of Natural Resources Governance, Food Security and Nutrition programme stated. Dr Diop made his opening remarks at the consultative workshop on facilitating regional fisheries aquaculture and aquatic systems networks in Libreville, Gabon.
“We were challenged to reflect on the establishment of an aquaculture network and a platform for strengthening fisheries and aquaculture governance in Africa. This reflection should enable us to agree, on a consensual basis, on a strategic orientation for the promotion of the fisheries and aquaculture sector within the framework of the principles of responsible production and the necessary reforms in good governance,” said Dr Diop.
The three-day meeting, held between October 3 - 6, saw extensive deliberations on key issues around the establishment of a Regional Aquaculture Network for Central Africa and a Regional Fisheries Platform for non-state actors in Central Africa. The workshop hosted a total of 32 participants from the central African region including government representatives from Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. Contributions were received from regional economic bodies - the Economic Community of Central African States (ECAAS) and the Economic Community of Livestock, Meat and Fishery Resources (CEBEVIRHA), as well as from the Regional Fisheries Commission of the Gulf of Guinea.
Representatives from the private sector, training and research institutions and other non-state actor organisations (NSAs) within the region included: the African Women’s Network of Processing and Fish Traders,Cameroon Aquaculture; Afrique Avenir - Cameroon Congo Kinoise; the network of fish farmers of Gabon; and fish farmers of Chad; Yabassi Institute of Fisheries Sciences at the University of Douala; the National Institute of Agronomy and Biotechnology, Masuku University of Science and Technology in Gabon; Research in Hydrobiology (HRC) -Uvira and the ISP / Bukavu Hydrobiology Teaching and Research Unit in DR Congo; and the DR Congo Natural Science Research Center.
The gathering supported information exchange on the AU fisheries programmes and opportunities for the participation of NSAs in the PFRS implementation process, as well as on the impacts of the work of NSAs in their respective countries and their experiences. and contributions to the development and implementation of fisheries and aquaculture policy processes at the national, sub-regional and regional levels.
Participants at the workshop charted the way forward with regards the election of provisional committees to oversee the establishment and operationalisation of the Regional Aquaculture Network for Central Africa and the Regional Fisheries Platform for NSAs active in fisheries and aquaculture in Central Africa. Participants agreed on the outline of the modalities and on the broad functions of the network and platform including draft rules of procedure, identification of key stakeholders and development of a roadmap for the operationalisation of the aquaculture network and NSA platform.
Recommendations of the workshop are that the two provisional committees will conduct the transition to the General Assembly of the formal bodies within an interim period of three months.
Both the opening and closing ceremonies of the workshop were presided over by His Excellency Athanase Nthanga Oyougou, Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry, Ocean and Environment of the Gabonese Republic. In his closing remarks, the Secretary General, on behalf of his Minister Mr Pacome Moubelet Boubeya, expressed his gratitude to NEPAD Agency for hosting the workshop in Gabon and thanked and congratulated the participants stating that “The responsibility and the personal commitment of each of you have made it possible to produce a quality document of which we can be proud of and which will enable us to participate in the reform of a sector that is still very under-developed in our sub-region.”