Regional Cooperation: Showcasing sustainable fishing

Regional Cooperation: Showcasing sustainable fishing

The main regional organizations and institutions working to promote sustainable fishing in the South West Indian Ocean reiterated their commitment to unite their efforts to efficiently exploit the region’s fishery resources which represent a USD 7.5 billion shortfall per year, according to the World Bank. These entities met for the second Steering Committee of E€OFISH programme, at the headquarters of the Indian Ocean Commission, to adopt the guidelines for their cooperation in this sector for the next twelve months.

This collaboration brings together the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (ECA), Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lake Tanganyika Agency (ALT), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (OPLV), Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC). Promoted and funded by the European Union (EU), this partnership will help consolidate the achievements of the States of the region as regards sustainable fishing, generating growth and employment. “Our joint action must be based on respect for our diversity, tireless efforts to seek complementarities and a genuine commitment to sharing and solidarity. Those are the fundamental values underpinning our collective mission of cooperation ", pointed out Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, Secretary General of the IOC during his opening speech.

This second Steering Committee helps to appraise the achievements of E€OFISH so far. “We also need to learn from the challenges that forced us to limit our activities and come forward with proposals allowing us to face the pandemic in order to achieve our goals towards our beneficiaries”, indicated Geza Strammer, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the EU to the Republic of Mauritius and to the Republic of Seychelles.

The highlights of the meeting include an inventory of the fisheries opportunities and challenges of the programme’s target countries, tools development for more informed decision-making as regards resources protection and exploitation in the region, as well as the relaunching of the Regional Fisheries Monitoring Plan to combat illegal fishing.

With respect to the region’s communities, E€OFISH is delighted to have identified and supported nine demonstration initiatives with grants amounting to over 7 million Euros. These projects include actions to support the economic empowerment of fishermen, in addition to efforts promoting artisanal fishing.

The steps to be taken in the context of COVID-19 were also discussed. With this in mind, Motseki Hlatshwayo, current Chair of the E€OFISH Steering Committee, urged the various stakeholders to "find innovative ways to ensure business continuity, because the COVID-19 will not disappear overnight”.

The E€OFISH programme, which is expected to run until September 2024, is financed to the tune of € 28 million by the EU. Its next Steering Committee will be chaired by COMESA.