Advancing a developed African Fisheries and Aquaculture

Thu, 07-09-2023 15:00:00


The second meeting of the revised African Fisheries Reform Mechanism (AFRM),  Think Tank Executive Committee (TTEC) is currently underway in Naivasha, Kenya.

The event organized by the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD seeks to review and enrich position papers and knowledge products that support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture across the African continent.

Institutionalizing a Value Chain Approach for a developed sector

AU-IBAR did a research on 53 AU Member States and reviewed best practices on fisheries and aquaculture and documented them. The findings provided essential insights into the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

The study revealed that many African countries currently lack fundamental institutions and management required to achieve the objectives set out in the African Union's Policy Framework and Reform Strategy (PFRS). Long-term commitment is crucial for building human and institutional capacity and realizing PFRS outcomes. Public sector programs often have short lifespans, whereas long-term programs are required for sustained growth.

The effectiveness of governance in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, as well as the development of value chains, now significantly rely on the efficiency of regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs), agreements within Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and the implementation of certification schemes.

The study highlighted good examples of sustainable practices on fisheries and aquaculture that enhanced the creation of more stable jobs. These practices also led to economic growth, food and nutrition security was also enhanced. An analysis on what made the best practices a success were featured in a report by AU-IBAR.

A comprehensive understanding of existing value chains, particularly in rapidly growing aquaculture sectors, is essential for designing effective interventions. Collaboration between strong governance institutions, including national governments, regional fisheries bodies, and non-state actors, is pivotal for building robust fishery and aquaculture value chains.

It is important to note that women should be included in value chain development. Despite policies promoting equitable inclusion of women, they remain marginalized in the sector. Empowering women requires larger-scale interventions for equitable participation.

Best Practices Insights

The initiatives aimed at unleashing the potential of fisheries and aquaculture value chains, as observed, encompassed the following:

  • Fostering commercial mentorships and partnerships for emerging aquaculture ventures
  • Establishment of industry associations
  • Government backing for crucial infrastructure, blue financing, designated environmentally friendly land and water access for aquaculture
  • Oversight by standards organizations
  • Ensuring coherent and synchronized trade tariffs, business permits, and taxation.

The overarching policy lesson emphasizes the promotion of both vertical and horizontal integration and collaboration when constructing these value chains. Various tools, including the Blue Economy and the Ecosystem Approach, coupled with regional cooperation facilitated by regional fishery and ecosystem management organizations and regional economic communities, alongside non-state actor associations, play pivotal roles in this endeavor.

Unlocking Success through Collaboration

The collaborative effort between the public sector, private industry, and local communities was the over-arching best practices in the countries. Historically, interventions in aquaculture and fisheries primarily relied on the public sector, focusing on regulations and technical issues. However, a shift is occurring towards a more integrated value chain approach and a blue economy perspective. This transformation involves multiple stakeholders, both public and non-state actors, working together to drive growth in the sector.

To achieve this approach's widespread success, more explicit policies, advocacy, and projects are essential. Empowering initiatives include commercial mentorship programs, industry associations, government support for critical infrastructure, standards organizations, and harmonized trade tariffs. These strategies promote vertical and horizontal integration, utilizing tools such as the Blue Economy and the Ecosystem Approach. Regional cooperation through fishery and ecosystem management organizations and economic communities plays a crucial role in driving progress.

The Director of AU-IBAR, Dr. Huyam Salih’s speech highlighted the significance of the event in advancing the socio-economic development of Africa through fisheries and aquaculture. The collaborative nature of the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism (AFRM) and its role in promoting governance and policy coherence in the sector was lauded. She highlighted the transformation of the AFRM during the FishGov2 project, with a focus on the revised Think Tank Executive Committee: “It is everyone’s responsibility to accelerate the implementation of activities to achieve common goals.

Through collaboration, shared responsibility, and an institutionalized value chain approach, the fisheries and aquaculture will create sustainable livelihoods, economic growth, and improved food security for millions of Africans. The commitment of all involved is a testament to the potential for positive change in this vital sector.