Dr Ndiaga Gueye, FAO Regional Fisheries Officer at the Regional Consultation on Small-Scale FisheriesGiven the great importance of small-scale fisheries in West Africa, the FAO - CECAF (Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic) consultation convened in Dakar, from 23 to 25 July 2018, was a particularly important and timely event. FAO organised the meeting in collaboration with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to which a wide range of professionals and stakeholders were invited, including Mundus maris, represented by Dr. Aliou Sall. This Regional Consultation focused on the Implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Ensuring Sustainable Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and the Eradication of Poverty (SSF Guidelines)

which were adopted in June 2014 by the 31st Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI). The SSF Guidelines are in line with the framework of the African Union Strategy for African Fisheries and Aquaculture (PF&RS) and are globally the first international instrument specifically dedicated to small-scale fisheries and provide a comprehensive framework for States and other stakeholders to support the small-scale fisheries sector in its real contribution to global and national efforts for food security and livelihoods.

The principal objectives were to ensure that at the end of the consultation

  • Participants have a better understanding of the status and importance of artisanal fisheries in the region and the relevant policy frameworks: the SSF Guidelines, the African Union PF&RS and the ECOWAS FIRST Program;
  • Priorities and actions, including potential resources and modalities for their implementation, have been identified for inclusion in a Regional Action Plan for sustainable small-scale fisheries under the Regional Policy Framework and the SSF Guidelines;
  • Lessons learnt and experiences of past and ongoing initiatives on the governance and development of small-scale fisheries have been shared; and
  • Recommendations made for the CECAF Working Group on Artisanal Fisheries and for the SSF Working Group of the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism (AFRM SSF WG).

Delegates from Civil Society OrganisationsSounds like a mouthful, but it is surely important to use existing political and institutional frameworks to rebalance national and regional policies in favour of small-scale fisheries at the expense of industrial fleets pillaging the resources, often illegally, and pulling the rug under the feet of millions.

Work took place in a format alternating plenaries for overview information with three working groups addressing stepwise the following aspects: 1st session: Agreeing on priorities - 2nd session: Sharing good practices - 3rd session: Providing elements for national and regional implementation planning. The overall agenda is here.

The working groups addressed the following aspects:

Group 1: Tenure governance in the small-scale fisheries sector and resource management (chapter 5 of the SSF Guidelines)

Group 2: Social development, employment and decent work and gender equality (chapters 6+8 of the SSF Guidelines)

Group 3: Value chains, post harvest sector and trade (chapter 7 of the SSF Guidelines)

Aliou Sall of Mundus maris at the Regional ConsultationThe dense and well-structed programme allowed also for time for thematic and national and regional experience and policy presentations so as to provide as complete a picture as possible about SSF, the measures in their support already taken and those that should be implemented as a matter of priority now. The analysis from the working groups are summarised as follows:

Group 1: Governance

  • There is a need to strengthen the collaboration and cooperation between states as well as fishing communities
  • Fishers and fishing communities are often not involved in the collection and use of data.
  • Tenure legislation relevant to small-scale fisheries is often missing or not applied.
  • Development projects affecting the small-scale fisheries sector are often developed without involvement of fishers and their communities.
  • There is a mismatch between the existing fishing capacity and the productivity of the fishery resources available to small-scale fisheries.

Group 2: Social development

  • Competition over space used by small-scale fisheries occurs in the region due to tourism development, oil/gas exploration, marine protected areas (MPAs) and industrial fisheries.
  • Resilience to the impact of climate change which affects the livelihoods of small-scale fisheries needs to be ensured.
  • Better access to alternative livelihoods, social amenities and improved landing sites should be provided
  • Access to information for small-scale fisheries, e.g. in relation to safety at sea issues, trade rules etc. to sensitized about regulations, rules and rights is of fundamental importance to support sustainable small-scale fisheries.
  • Access to financial services, savings and social protection, in particular for women and youth, is currently often a challenge

Representatives of countries and civil society organisations togetherGroup 3: Value chains

  • In the post-harvest sector, there is a need for investments in appropriate infrastructures and technologies.
  • Value chain actor organizations need to be strengthened and their capacities developed to allow for their enhanced participation in decision-making processes as well as in the management of infrastructure and facilities mentioned above.
  • Post-harvest losses and waste need to be addressed and efforts made to increase the added value.
  • Post-harvest actors, in particular vulnerable and marginalized groups as well as women and youth, are rarely part of fisheries decision-making processes.

Climate change and disaster risks (chapter 9 of the SSF Guidelines) were considered throughout the discussions as cross-cutting issues. Priorities for next steps were recommended to workshop participants themselves, governments, regional organisations and others. Click here to read the detailed outcomes of the consultation.

All pictures by FAO.

Family Photo of Participants