Fishing ‘revolution’ should fast-track Africa’s economy

29Jun 2020
The Guardian
Fishing ‘revolution’ should fast-track Africa’s economy

Tanzania is blessed with fisheries resources from marine, freshwater, riverine and wetland species. By making use of these resources, the sector provides direct employment of about 183,800 fishers.

The government has adopted an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and is promoting responsible fishing practices. Responsible fishing practices include reducing by-catch and other adverse ecosystem impacts of fisheries.

Fish stocks which are now under comprehensive management plans include pelagic fishery, octopus fishery, prawn fishery and national tuna management.

Tanzania, like other countries in the Western Indian Ocean region, is well endowed with abundant natural resources both renewable and non-renewable.

Commercial fisheries, coastal tourism, shipping, coastal mining and more recently natural gas and oil in coastal and marine areas, are some of the most important industrial activities that take place in our coastal and marine areas.

In 2017 Tanzania held a symposium that brought together about 500 scientists, students, managers, decision-makers, community groups and the private sector from more than 30 countries across the world.

The economic value of the goods and services provided by the coastal and marine environment in the Western Indian Ocean region was recently estimated to be 20.8 billion U.S. dollars annually but it could be even higher.

We treasure this ecosystem because of the essential goods and services it provides for economic development, but we also recognise that we face several challenges in our endeavours to manage our coastal and marine environments cooperatively and in an integrated and sustainable way.

Africa therefore should be dedicated to promoting the educational, scientific and technological development of all aspects of marine sciences throughout the region comprising Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Reunion.

Fisheries management employs activities that protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible, drawing on fisheries science and possibly including the precautionary principle. A popular approach is the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.

According to the FAO, fisheries management should be based explicitly on political objectives, ideally with transparent priorities. Political goals can also be a weak part of fisheries management, since the objectives can conflict with each other.

Fisheries management is the activity of protecting fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible, drawing on fisheries science, and including the precautionary principle. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management means to implement the rules, which are put in place by a system of monitoring control and surveillance. A popular approach is the ecosystem approach to fisheries management

Africa's small-scale fisheries play a critical role in global food security and must be supported with greater research and investment

Industry, NGO, government and academic representatives attended Murdoch University's second Blue Economy Symposium in Tunis recently as part of the Africa Blue Economy Forum 2019 and Murdoch University's Third Commission, a research investigation focusing on issues of public concern to Africa.

Fish accounts for more than one-fifth of the protein intake of African south of the Sahara and provides a livelihood to millions of people. Indeed the collective value of the small scale fisheries of Africa was too big to ignore.

It is critical that Africa stabilises and rebuild these fisheries to ensure both food security and the future of the blue economy. The time to act is now. The need to highlight clear and innovative actions to effect lasting transformation of the blue economy in Africa cannot overemphasised. There is need for all nations and international institutions to recognise the value and economic impact of small-scale fisheries in Africa.

As well as increasing investment to allow fishing communities to be more involved in the co-management of fisheries; and directly engaging with fishing communities to collect and share relevant data regarding the state and economic value of small-scale coastal fisheries.