The first Steering Committee Meeting of the Fisheries Governance Phase 2 “FishGov 2” Project themed “Enhancing sustainable fisheries management and aquaculture development in Africa: a programme for accelerated reform of the sector” took place online on 16 April 2021. AU-IBAR, AUDA-NEPAD, and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) of the African Union Commission (AUC) jointly hosted the meeting, chaired by H.E. Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner ARBE.
In her opening remarks, H.E. Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, recognised the support of the European Union, Government of Norway, and other stakeholders supporting blue growth in Africa. She further highlighted the need for capacity building during the FishGov 2 implementation phase to improve the aquaculture regime in Africa by utilising the African Union (AU) Centre of Excellence as an avenue. Also present at the meeting is the EU Delegation to the AU, H.E Brigitte Markussen, who noted that the Blue Economy is essentially the principal economy of Africa. She further stressed that: ‘The outmost importance is to see successful implementation of FishGov 2 co-funded by EU with a contribution of 12 million Euro for a period of less than 5 years.’ She reiterated the support to African Union Member States to formulate fisheries policies & strategies and commitment of the EU to support the AU-Regional Center of Excellence to deliver on their mandate.
Mr. Mamadou Diakhite, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Mayaki Assane Ibrahim, CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, noted the critical importance of instituting a joint coordination mechanism. The coordination would ensure strong alignment in implementing the FishGov 2 Project activities between the leading implementers (AU-IBAR, AUDA-NEPAD, and AUC- ARBE.
Additional opening statements made by Hon. Ministers in charge of fisheries and aquaculture from South Sudan H. E. Onyoti Nyikwae, Burkina Faso H. E. Tegwendé Modeste YERBANGA and Chad H. E. DJADALLAH Bichara Issa emphasising the need for strengthening and accelerating fisheries governance on the continent for the benefits of the Citizens of the continent.
In reflecting on the lessons and insights from FishGov 1 and FishTrade projects, AU-IBAR’s Officer in Charge, Mr. Talal Kishlaf represented by Prof, James Wabacha noted the need for continued efforts to successful upscale initiatives under the FishGov 1 Implementation phase.
The meeting brought together 73 participants, including Honourable Ministers, Executive Secretaries of Regional Economic Communities (RECs): Arab Maghreb Union (AMU/UMA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Development and Technical Partners: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), ECOFISH, African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Fisheries Bodies – Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), Regional Commission of Fisheries of Gulf of Guinea (COREP), Ministerial Conference on fisheries cooperation among African States bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO) and PESCAO. The SC members engaged in the fruitful discussion to attain consensus on the future activities to adopt the work modalities for the project period.
The Draft Terms of Reference for the Project Steering Committee discussed and agreed by the Technical Committee were presented to the Steering Committee for approval. Given the project’s need to adapt its working methodology, the FishGov 2 first-year Workplan and Budget were presented. The Draft Monitoring and Evaluation Framework; and the Draft Communications and Visibility Plan were also presented in line with tracking and highlighting project achievements and lessons. The meeting agreed to the various plans and activity amendments. The consensus led to adopting the various strategies outlined in the meeting recommendations presented at the end of the session. The meeting recommended that the project address markets access issues and related regulation for trade as well as aligning and revising the implementation of project to the current COVID 19 pandemic.
The FishGov 2 Project aims to achieve three specific objectives:
i. AU decisions on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture policies are evidence-based
ii. Fisheries and aquaculture policies in Africa are coherent with the PFRS and other AU priorities and coordinated at continental, regional and national levels
iii. Africa is adequately represented and effectively participates in international fisheries and aquaculture fora and ably domesticates relevant global instruments.
FishGov 2 supports the implementation of the AU’s Blue Print Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa and the recent Africa Blue Economic Strategy. These key instruments guide the interventions for addressing food security and increasing economic avenues generated through the fisheries and aquaculture sector.