Facilitating the usage of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Database by East and Southern African stakeholders

Mon, 15-05-2023 15:00:00

The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) are presently in Antananarivo, Madagascar, from May 15-17, 2023, conducting a consultative workshop aimed at validating and utilising the Fisheries and Aquaculture Database. The meeting aims to engage stakeholders from East and Southern Africa and provide a platform for the authentication of data sources, as well as the dissemination of best practises derived from the results of FishGov 1 and Fish Trade Project Implementation.

Present at the gathering are delegates from the Member States of The African Union, representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Development Partners, Regional Fisheries Bodies, and Regional Fisheries Management Projects. Additionally, attendees include representatives from the AU Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture, Regional Sea Conventions, and Continental and Regional Nonstate Actors in Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The meeting was inaugurated by His Excellency the Honourable Minister of Fisheries and the Blue Economy of Madagascar, Honourable MAHATANTE Tsimanaoraty Paubert (Above Picture), along with Dr. Bernice Mclean from AUDA-NEPAD and Ms. Francisca Gonah, who represented the Acting Director of AU-IBAR. The aforementioned occasion has been orchestrated by the two executing collaborators of the Fishery Governance Project's second phase (FishGov2), namely AU-IBAR and AUDA NEPAD, with financial backing from the European Union.

The database that has been developed represents a continuation of the previous efforts undertaken in FishGov1. The FishGov 1 initiative involved the development of a technical guide aimed at achieving harmonised data collection, management, and analysis. Additionally, training sessions were conducted for AU MS to facilitate their understanding and application of the guide.  The FishGov2 Project has recognised that despite ongoing efforts, there are significant obstacles hindering the sustainable growth of the fishing industry. These challenges include insufficient governance at both national and regional levels, which has led to inadequate management of fisheries due to a lack of data for informed decision-making. These issues have impeded progress towards achieving goals such as enhancing food security, increasing livelihoods, and promoting wealth creation. Consequently, the project facilitated the implementation of activities aimed at devising suitable mechanisms that would enable stakeholders of the African Union to obtain high-quality knowledge products pertaining to fisheries and aquaculture in Africa.

Due to the existing gaps on the previous database, AU-IBAR is collaborating with the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, which is recognised as one of the AU Centres of Excellence, to address the deficiencies in the prior database. The objective was to enhance the database on fisheries and aquaculture, as well as to establish a system for managing the data. The National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) in Uganda was commissioned to conduct a study aimed at identifying sources of data pertaining to fisheries, aquaculture, socio-economic factors, and environmental issues in the South and East African regions. The primary focus of this workshop is to enhance the proficiency of essential stakeholders in utilising the Database and to authenticate these consultancies.

According to Ms. Gonah, the FishTrade project, which was financially supported by the European Union, has amassed a substantial amount of data on fish trade in Africa. This initiative has also produced empirical evidence that can contribute to a deeper comprehension of both inter- and intra-regional fish trade, as well as the scope of informal cross-border trade. The FishGov2 Project facilitated activities aimed at documenting lessons learned and best practises to support informed and rational interventions, as well as informing policy changes in the management of fisheries and aquaculture. The National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) in Uganda and Rhodes University in South Africa were granted the associated consultancies. The results of these investigations will additionally be exhibited to representatives for the purpose of scrutiny, enhancement, and authentication.

The workshop in Madagascar is the second of a trilogy of workshops that seek to involve stakeholders in discussions regarding the database for fisheries and aquaculture. A prior workshop was conducted in Senegal, and a subsequent one has been scheduled to take place in Egypt from May 27th to June 1st,