Africa should now strengthen fisheries governance frameworks

24Feb 2021
The Guardian
Africa should now strengthen fisheries governance frameworks

African countries should strengthen their fisheries governance frameworks, in order to deter and stop illegal fishing, and these may include ratification or accession to international and regional fishery agreements; and resolutions as well as implementation of these into domestic legislation-

-to facilitate national actions against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing operators.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is an issue around the world. Fishing industry observers believe IUU occurs in most fisheries, and accounts for up to 30 per cent of total catches in some important fisheries. Illegal fishing takes place when vessels or harvesters operate in violation of the laws of a fishery. This can apply to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction of a coastal state or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional fisheries management organisations. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), fisheries and aquaculture department, illegal fishing has caused losses estimated at US$23 billion per year.

Unreported fishing is fishing that has been unreported or misreported to the relevant national authority  in contravention of applicable laws and regulations. Unregulated fishing generally refers to fishing by vessels without nationality, vessels flying the flag of a country not party to the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMO).

The drivers behind illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are similar to those behind many other types of international environmental crime: pirate fishers have a strong economic incentive – many species of fish, particularly those that have been over-exploited and are thus in short supply, are of high financial value.. Since no one reports catches made by pirates, their level of fishing cannot be accurately quantified.

Tanzania  has managed to control illegal fishing on the beaches along the seashore where the problem has been more or less eradicated. We should not relent in the fight but all surveillance centres should  be provided with modern equipment. In the past dynamite fishing was rampant along the country’s beaches but the trend has been reversed following several operations to arrest illegal fishermen.

The ministry responsible should  implement  various strategies, including establishing surveillance centres at the great lakes, beaches along the sea and boundaries through the Multi Agency Task Team (MATT).

Others include Operation Johari that was launched several years ago    as part of a regional crackdown on international unregulated and unrepresented (IUU) fishing on the western rim of the Indian Ocean.

It was undertaken with law enforcement agents from the Deap Sea Fishing Authority, the Tanzanian Navy and Multi-Agency Task Team (MATT). Other measures included Operation Sangara on Lake Victoria.

We are  aware of effects of illegal fishing especially explosive fishing, and  therefore  the surveillance centres should be well equipped.

In 2017 fish catches in the country declined to at least 360,000 tonnes in 2016 compared to 390,000 tonnes of fish in 2012.

The latest UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report shows that illegal fishing is still rampant in the western Indian Ocean coast, occasioning a US$ 400 million loss per year in landings or nearly US$ 1 billion in processed products. Despite concerted efforts by the shoreline countries, including Tanzania, the rate at which unregulated fishing is executed continues to alarm policy makers and development agencies.

Today, one out of every five fish is caught illegally in the western Indian Ocean region,” FAO said in the report. The Regional Fisheries Monitoring Plan (PRSP) was created in 2007 by the Indian Ocean Commission, an intergovernmental body formed in the 1980s, as a tool to address the problem.

During the past decade, the PRSP surveillance zone expanded to 6.4 million square kilometres from 5.5 million km square in eight nations’ coasts, the report underlined

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