By Novell Zwange – BANJUL – Several government ministers, experts and development partners who have been attending the first Conference of African Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) in Banjul, have reaffirmed the role of fisheries and aquaculture in achieving the 6% annual growth of the wider agricultural sector as envisaged by the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Programme (CAADP).
This commitment should be transmitted by the support of member states and the African Union to strengthen the policy coherence in national fisheries sector regarding CAADP in order to enhance the role of fish in food security, poverty alleviation and trade development. “African Union and member states should constitute fish expert pools to urgently engage in the country CAADP processes and respond with post-compact fisheries investment interventions,” reveals a report issued at the end of the ministerial meeting.
Meanwhile, the president of The Gambia Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, has demanded that international trade in fish and fishery products should be fair and equitable so that the sector achieves sustainable development and responsible utilization of living aquatic resource. The Gambian leader made the remarks in a statement read on his behalf by the Vice President, Dr Ajaratou Isatou Nüe-Saidy at the First Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) in Banjul.
President Jammeh highlighted the challenges facing the sector such as the lack of requisite infrastructure needed to promote value addition as well as a fair balance between artisanal and industrial fisheries. “Fish is also a resource that continues to be threatened with decline in stock, from a combination of factors, including over-fishing aggravated by the indiscriminate or inappropriate use of fishing methods that destroy juvenile fish and fish survival, and poaching carried out by unlicensed vessels often from countries outside the continent,” he said.
Speaking at the conference, Mrs. Elizabeth Tankeu, Commissioner for Trade and Industry African Union Commission (AUC) said there was need for strategic dissemination of lessons learned from the success stories and best practices of the countries that have turned fisheries into wealth.
“Africa duly taps its fisheries potential and significantly contributes towards improvement of nutrition, as well as elimination of hunger and poverty,” said Mrs. Tankeu.
She reiterated the AU’s commitment to ensure that the fisheries sector in Africa receives the attention it deserves for its own growth and its contribution to socio-economic development. This includes the commitment to develop the fisheries that is demonstrated through various initiatives that have taken place in the last five years starting in 2004, during the extra-ordinary Summit, which was held in Sirte, Libya.
Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, in his statement, read out by Dr. Sloans Chimatiro, Senior Fisheries Advisor, NEPAD Agency, said that fisheries are very vital for many Africans who daily catch, process, transport and sell fish.
He observed that although the African fisheries sector produces substantial benefits, the continent faces major problems to ensure long term resources sustainability.
Taking the floor, on behalf of Dr. Jacques Diouf, the Director General of FAO, Mr. Musa Saihou Mbenga, Deputy Regional Representative for Africa/Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, recalled FAO’s initiative on convening the World Summit on Food Security held in Rome, Italy, in November 2009 noting that “Among other issues, the summit declaration explicitly calls for support to regional development frameworks such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)”, which includes a fisheries and aquaculture component.
Experts recommended that the African Union should assist member states to develop mechanisms, which effectively strengthen south to south cooperation in fisheries at all relevant levels, with the view to increasing coherence in best practices between African states. “The African Union should develop and implement a coordination mechanism among Regional Economical Commission and regional fisheries boards to ensure coherence of fisheries management and aquaculture development and their adoption and adaptation in Africa,” the meeting suggested.
CAADP is based on two major principles; the pursuit of a 6% average annual growth at the national level in the agricultural sector, and the allocation of 10% of national budgets to agriculture. The CAADP complementary programme on fisheries works to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture are integrated in these two major target areas.