Lomé - As the world celebrated World Fisheries Day on 21 November, one of the key areas being tackled on the African continent is how to reach sustainable aquaculture.
Instituted in 1998, World Fisheries Day raises awareness on the importance of preserving biodiversity, sustainable fisheries, food security, economic well-being and the health of populations around the world. Africa has extensive and extremely valuable fish resources, which are exploited by the marine, inland and aquaculture sub-sectors. The exploitation of these resources contributes to African economies, employment, food supply and welfare.
As part of addressing the challenges found in the management of marine environments, the NEPAD Agency took part in the World Fisheries Day commemoration in Lomé, Togo, hosted by the African Confederation of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organisations (CAOPA).
Dr Bernice Mclean, Senior Programme Officer for Fisheries at the NEPAD Agency, spoke on strengthening the message of the opportunities inherent in fisheries and aquaculture for the continent. She highlighted the actions needed for better governance of these sectors if they are to contribute to food security and economic growth. In her presentation on how to reach sustainable aquaculture in Africa, Dr Mclean brought out the challenges and opportunities in aquaculture development.
The fish sector makes vital contributions to the food and nutrition security of 200 million Africans and provides income for over 10 million engaged in fish production, processing and trade. The total value of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Africa, including fish processing, is estimated by a recent joint-study conducted by the NEPAD Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to be 24 billion US dollars, which accounts for 1.26 percent of the total continental gross domestic product. Among the various fisheries, aquaculture contributes 15 percent to that value and employs about 7.5 percent of the total number of workers in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Africa.
In commemorating World Fisheries Day this year, CAOPA issued a declaration that recognises that fisheries occupy a strategic position in African the national economies. Moreover, artisanal fisheries, the dominant sub-sector in most countries, is one of the sectors that contributes the most to the creation of wealth. This is achieved through not only the sub-sector’s contribution to state revenue, but also through the creation of jobs and its contribution to food security.
The NEPAD Agency’s Fisheries and Aquaculture programmatic work focuses on enhancing the contribution of fisheries resources to food security and economic growth in Africa. In improving sustainable fish governance on the continent, earlier this year, the NEPAD Agency developed a platform for non-state actors in West Africa with CAOPA.
Speaking on the importance of celebrating World Fisheries Day, Dr Hamady Diop, Head of the Natural Resources Governance – Food Security and Nutrition Programme at the NEPAD Agency stated that he views, “The creation of the fisheries non-state actors’ platform as an important step towards not only improving the governance of the sector, but also in strengthening the ‘African Voice’ in fisheries and aquaculture.”
 FAO and NPCA. 2014. De Graaf, G. J. and Garibaldi, L. The Value of African Fisheries. FAO Fish. And Aqua. Circular No 1093, FIPS/C1093. ISSN 2070-6065