Fisheries in the Southwest Indian Ocean:
Only 17% implement fisheries management plans
Nairobi, 28th April, 2022 – Two preliminary reports on fisheries management plans and the redefinition and characterisation of small-scale fisheries were submitted for validation to seven Southwestern Indian Ocean (SWIO) countries at an E€OFISH workshop from 26 to 28 April 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. These reports draw particular attention to the fact that out of 216 fisheries identified in the region, only 61 have fisheries management plans, and only 36 are actually implementing them.
“These small-scale fisheries, and the fishing industry in general, are affected by overfishing, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution, and population growth without management standards put in place and enforced.The reports are thus essential as they provide a clearer picture of the status quo, highlight the lessons learned and best practices from past experiences; they also provide recommendations for better use and sustainable management of small-scale fisheries for future generations”, says Vincent Degert, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles.
Small-scale fishing: a poorly exploited social safety net
Small-scale fisheries represent 78% of the catches in Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania. This sector contributes significantly to food security and livelihoods of the populations, particularly the poorer groups. Around 42% of the total catch from small-scale fisheries is for personal consumption, and the sale of fish accounts for about 32% of fishing households’ income in the region.
However, the sector can make a much more significant contribution to the development in terms of employment, food and nutritional security, and wealth creation at local, national and regional levels. The potential of small-scale fisheries is estimated at USD 4 billion, with a wasted economic rent of approximately USD 400 million a year.
Inclusive management of the sector for greater efficiency and sustainability
SWIO countries have introduced fisheries management plans to capitalise on the sector’s potential and to sustainably manage their resources. “The reports show that there is a need for greater inclusion of the various stakeholders, and that skills should be reinforced - particularly through training, funding should be made more accessible and legal frameworks improved to develop and implement useful and effective fisheries management plans which could generate sustainable incomes and create jobs”, says Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission. He adds, “Therefore, there are institutional, sectoral and operational efforts to be made collectively to better manage the sectors and thus achieve the expected results of economic sustainability for all, social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability, in particular with the support of E€OFISH Programme.”
The two reports on the proposed redefinition and characterization of small-scale fisheries and on the data and recommendations relating to fisheries management plans for SWIO countries provide the basis for informed decision-making about the development of programmes and strategies on the future of fishing in the region.
These two reports were commissioned by the E€OFISH Programme which aims to make sustainable fishing an economic lever for East Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region. Funded and promoted by the European Union, this programme is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Lake Tanganyika Agency (LTA), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC).
The final versions of the reports will be available at https://www.ecofish-programme.org/publications as from 30th May 2022