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Press Release 99/62


Rome, 25 October - The United Kingdom has agreed to finance a $34 million development project to reduce poverty in some of the poorest countries of the world by improving the livelihoods of people dependent on fisheries. The Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFL) will be managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the 24 African countries involved and the UK Department for International Development, the UN agency announced today.

The project will assist countries with the implementation of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The Code promotes the contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food-security and food-quality, emphasizing the need to reduce pollution, waste, discard and the catch of non-target species.

The 5-year-programme will work through low-cost, small-scale and poverty-focused initiatives, some of which may later develop into pilot-project proposals to address sub-regional problems. The project will build on the indigenous knowledge and skills of local communities.

In the countries participating in the project, 5.3 million poor people are directly employed in artisanal fishing, including food processors and sellers, boat builders, repairmen, spare parts sellers, hawkers, middlemen and mechanics. In most countries, the fisheries sector represents up to five percent of total GDP. Fish provide on average about 35 percent of the animal protein throughout the region.

With about 10,000 kilometres of coast, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 30 percent of the whole African continent and about 165,000 sq. kilometres of inland waters, the region has a potential of seven million tons of fish per year.

The management of the fisheries sector in the countries concerned has been inadequate in the past, issues of equity and sustainability have only recently been addressed, FAO said. The sector is facing major problems such as over-exploitation of some fishery resources, inadequate information for planning and management, destructive fishing practices, habitat damage, conflicts between fisheries and post-harvest losses.

Relatively few gear- and boat-owners dominate ownership of fisheries operations. Women in the fish-processing industry, estimated to be around 50 percent of the total workforce, and many poor labourers, are the majority of artisanal fishers. But they participate only in a limited way in decision-making and profit sharing.

The project will emphasize the sustainable use of fisheries resources and the importance of fisheries for poor, artisanal fishers, fish-processors and traders, most of whom are women.

"The main objective of this regional project is to reduce poverty by increasing income and food security through a better management of marine and inland capture fisheries", said Zbigniew Karnicki, Director of the FAO Fishery Policy and Planning Division. "Together with communities, local and national authorities and NGOs the project will aim at improving the performance of the sector and creating the conditions for sustainable fisheries".

"The Department for International Development is working in partnership with FAO and countries of the region towards the elimination of poverty", said Neil MacPherson, Senior Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Adviser. "A vital element of the programme is FAO's ability to promote the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries to improve the livelihoods of the poor".

The project is designed to enable poor coastal and inland communities participate more directly in fisheries planning and management. It will improve the efficiency of artisanal fishing for the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fish and fish products.

Countries participating in the project are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo

For any information, please contact:
Erwin Northoff, Media Relations Officer
Tel: 0039.06.57053105, E-mail:

For video footage, please contact :
Gillian Hazell, Media Relations Officer
Tel: 0039-06-57055980, E-mail:

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