African Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture yesterday gathered at the African Union Commission offices for the second edition of the Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) themed “Transforming Africa’s Fisheries & Aquaculture for Food & Nutritional Security, Improved Livelihoods & Wealth”.
The conference’s main objective is to present and adopt the first ever continental Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa. The Framework provides structured guidance to Africa’s fisheries management agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate reforms towards coherent national and regional policies. This will ensure wealth-generating potential, sustainable social, environmental and profitable outcomes for Africa and its people.
“Over the past five years we have succeeded in prioritizing fisheries and aquaculture on development agenda at national, regional, continental and global levels.” This was said by the NEPAD Director of Programmes, Mrs Etherine Lisinge-Fotabong, speaking on behalf of the NEPAD Agency CEO.
She emphasised NEPAD’s appreciation of donor support .“The last four years has seen unprecedented support to the NEPAD’s PAF Programme. We would like to thank all our partners, particularly, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) who provided us with fund for the Partnership for African Fisheries (PAF)” she said
In his presentation during the Ministerial Dialogue on Fisheries and Aquaculture, NEPAD Head of Fisheries, Dr Sloans Chimatiro said that the key message conveyed in the framework is that opportunities exist for fisheries to generate more wealth for our continent, but if and only if, Africa increases awareness amongst policy makers on the value of the fish resources. “We also need to create an enabling environment that provides countries (and fishers) with incentives and confidence to invest in and manage the fish resources. Africa needs to realise the socio-economic potential of fish resources” he said
The Director of African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources,(AU-IBAR), Professor Ahmed Elsawalhy echoed his sentiments and said that the framework presents a unique opportunity for Africa’s f sustainable development and utilisation of the fisheries and aquaculture resources for the wellbeing of citizens. The document elaborates and makes explicit essential guiding principles for good governance of African fisheries. The need for an increase of the “African Voice” in international dialogue particularly with regard to the “Blue Economy” and the high seas was also raised.
Fisheries experts, representatives from the EU , FAO, AfDB, World Bank, the Private Sector, and Civil Society Organizations all agreed that the profile of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) has to be enhanced. They also recommended the establishment of National CAADP subcommittees on Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Finally they pledged for the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture to be endorsed by the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture to follow on the 1st and 2nd of May 2014.
On the margins of this landmark event, AUC and European Union launched a new Project on Fisheries Governance that will build on the work done by the Partnership for African Fisheries and Aquaculture and other continental fisheries interventions, The 11 million euros Project will be conducted within all Members States of the African Union.
“The success of this Project will depend on Africa’s leaders. Your dedication and effort in ensuring that the project is implemented will determine its positive impact on the continent” said Mrs Lowri Evans, Director General of Fisheries and Maritime at the European Union.
African leadership’s full commitment is imperative to allow this pivotal sector to deploy and flourish because fisheries are renewable cross-sectoral resources that can last forever if and only if, they are sustainably managed.