An African Platform for Regional Institutions for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Systems (APRIFAAS) which was established in July 2015 in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, held its 1st Session of the General Assembly in Dakar, Senegal, on 22 January 2016.
The session, which was chaired by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat as the First-Vice Chair, in the absence of the Chair which is the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), was attended by more than 20 Members representing different regional economic communities (RECs), regional fisheries bodies (RFBs), watercourse authorities, development partners and observers.
The 1st Session of the APRIFAAS General Assembly was very successful and several issues were discussed and adopted during the meeting. First was the appointment of the Vice-Rapporteur to the APRIFAAS Bureau. The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD) representing North Africa was appointed. Secondly, APRIFAAS Secretariat, which is African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), provided progress on activities under the auspices of APRIFAAS since its establishment last year. These include successful conclusion of a partnership agreement between the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS) and Regional Fisheries Committee for the Gulf of Guinea (COREP). A similar arrangement is currently being finalised for Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) with the ECOWAS. Progress on the review and harmonization of fisheries programmes of Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) for alignment with the East Africa Community (EAC) fisheries policies and those of their Member States was also discussed. Similar work has also been initiated between SADC and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) and Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA).
The meeting also developed a draft work plan, 2016-2017 for the Platform and agreed that the Bureau will have it finalised and shared with members for further comments before end of March 2016. In a nutshell, activities proposed include sharing of relevant information and lessons learnt on programmes and interventions between members; development of an information portal and creation of a quarterly electronic newsletter; technical support to the African Group at the next FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) to be held from 09-16 July 2016 in order to continue to strengthen the African Voice; development of a resource mobilization plan; convening of meetings of the APRIFAAS Bureau.
Finally, the meeting was informed of the upcoming 3rd Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture to be held later in 2016. It is envisaged that APRIFAAS will have a side event at this meeting. The meeting was also informed of the forthcoming COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade to take place in Agadir, Morocco from 22-26 February 2016. The date and venue of the next session of the APRIFAAS General Assembly will be discussed between the Bureau and Secretariat and communicated to members of the Platform once confirmed.
Members recognized and commended AU-IBAR for the APRIFAAS initiative and reiterated their commitment to support this process.