The growing numbers and influence of non-state actors (NSAs) in the fisheries and aquaculture sector means that they play a central role in setting standards for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in Africa. Better mechanisms for networking and collaboration among NSAs is however pivotal to ensuring communication and advocacy roles are undertaken on an equal footing.
Against that background, a three-day consultative event is being jointly organized by AU-IBAR, AUDA NEPAD and FAO will be held in Accra, Ghana from 17-19 November 2021 to facilitate the establishment of a Continental Coordination platform of actively involved NSAs in fisheries and aquaculture. In addition to the workshop organisers and national fisheries and aquaculture institutions, the workshop attendees will comprise the executive bureau members of regional NSAs organizations from the five regions (North, West, East, Central and Southern), representatives of other networks, such as PRNFAA, African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFishNET), Aquaculture Network for Africa (ANAF).
Specific objectives of the workshop will include: (i) Sharing lessons and perspectives on the functions of NSAs in fisheries and aquaculture; (ii) Organizing and coordinating the regional NSAs at continental level; (iii) Adopting the Terms of Reference (Mandates) and Rules of Procedure for Continental Platform of NSAs in Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector in Africa; (iv) Proposing vital elements for the establishment of continental NSAs advocacy strategy; (v) Developing a two-year action plan for continental coordination NSAs platform and propose roadmap; and (vi) Electing the executive bureau of the continental coordination platform.
The meeting will comprise four sessions on technical issues and background on key policy instruments, Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines (SSF Guidelines) and International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 (IYAFA2022); information sharing on activities by regional NSAs and other platforms or networks; group work to discuss the governing instrument of the continental coordination platform; and elections of bureau for the NSA Coordinating Platform.
The African NSA Coordinating Platform will be vital in creating a new space of interaction to stimulate ongoing two-way communication (vertical and horizontal) between stakeholders at all levels and for attracting the attention of policymakers.
This initiative supports the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa (PFRS) that advocates for the development of small scale fisheries to “improve and strengthen the contribution of small-scale fisheries to poverty alleviation, food and nutrition security and socio-economic benefits of fishing communities”. Additionally, the platform aligns with the continental partnership platform – the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism (AFRM), which was established with the prime aim of facilitating coordination and coherence in the governance of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Specifically, the AFRM supports information sharing on lessons and best practices, enhances communication, fosters institutional collaboration, promotes partnerships, and strengthen evidenced-based policy formulation. The AFRM also encourages integration or mainstreaming of the sector in the AU policy processes, increase common African positions in regional and global fora. The NSAs are effectively engaged within the AFRM Policy Structure and functions at different levels. AFRM provides a mechanism for the coordination of NSAs at regional and continental levels in that regard.
Better coordination of the Non-State Actors will in the long run support the independence of their work in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and their ability to face the challenge of social disintegration and divisions by providing the minimum requirements for exchange, dialogue, safeguarding diversity, and difference. Therefore, this will allow the NSAs to assume their role in the sector and defend the interests of the whole of civil society.