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Safeguarding the marine resources for food security and nutrition

Major step in improving regional fisheries governance in West Africa

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6 May 2019, Akosombo [Ghana] – The continuous human-related actions and natural causes such as climate change have over the years contributed to the depletion of the marine resources, and with the growing impact of climate change on fishing activities and livelihood of people in Africa, the fisheries sector of West Africa needs a strengthened effective governance and monitoring mechanisms.

This is the driving force behind the European Union-funded PESCAO project of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) within the framework of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF).

The project focuses on enhancing the contribution of fisheries resources to sustainable development, food security and poverty alleviation in West Africa. PESCAO brings together various stakeholders and other key fisheries sector partners in the ECOWAS area of competence to deliberate and develop a sustainable work plan along with activities to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

Speaking at the inception meeting, FAO Africa’s Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer and Secretary of CECAF, Ndiaga Gueye explained that the PESCAO project is to transform the fisheries sector into a major contributor to food security and sustainable development in West Africa.

“PESCAO will support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in developing a framework for regional fisheries priorities, and facilitating cooperation with sub-regional organizations and development partners. It is a platform for dialogue, to identify the key issues to be addressed, and to serve as a catalyst for solving the numerous challenges within the fisheries sector in the sub-region,” he said.

FAO and CECAF Collaboration

FAO established CECAF under its Constitution to promote the sustainable management of living marine resources within its area of competence. Some of this collaboration include proper management and development of the fisheries and fishing operations in the sub-region.

Explaining more on the insight of the project, the Coordinator of the FAOEAF, Nansen Programme, Ms. Merete Tandstad, stated that the long visible impact of the project will facilitate implementation of key recommendations of CECAF with the aim to strengthen fisheries and the proper management and development of fisheries and will focus on improved data quality, assessments and reporting process.

“We also seek to support also the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and deepen the application of international instruments, capitalising on existing experiences and partnerships,” she further stated.

Improving fisheries governance in West Africa

The FAO/ECOWAS Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Officer, Mr. Aboubacar Sidibe, stated that though the specific objective of PESCAO is to improve the governance of fisheries in the sub-region, the project also provides the opportunity to improve the coordination with partners. This is to ensure that the sector can efficiently contribute to food security and to benefit the partners in in line with the project.

As FAO and ECOWAS continue to strengthen ties to ensure food security and nutrition, the PESCAO/CECAF project comes in handy to build the capacities of competent national in the management of marine resources, mechanisms and tools for improving the implementation of CECAF recommendations with a focus on improved data quality, assessments, and reporting processes.

FAO and European Union partnership

The project, funded by the European Union, manifests the strong partnership between the two organizations with a common call to fight poverty, hunger and malnutrition on the planet. Based on shared vision, goals and interests fed by innovative approaches, tools and products, the partnership benefits the global community, and serves as an important agent of change to the benefit of people within Africa, the sub-region and beyond.

Key conclusions and follow-up actions

The meeting concluded with the development of Year 1 action plan to serve as a guiding framework for the PESCAO project implementation. Following this, participants highlighted the need for appropriate capacity-building including fisheries assessment methods, data preparation and analysis, scientific writing and project development. There was also an agreement on the need to maximize synergies in fisheries research and management and avoid duplication of efforts. Project also pushes for data and information sharing between regional, sub-regional and national level. The meeting recommended a stimulation of science management and policy dialogue, which will be, operationalized by a small group consisting of stakeholder and working group chairs to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

The discussion also highlighted the need for a Communication and Visibility Strategy, as requested by the EU for sustainable visibility and impact of the project be effective.

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