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Partners from around the globe gather near Rome to improve coastal fisheries

Participants in the Coastal Fisheries initiative workshop in Vitorchiano, Italy

At Vitorchiano, a small village north of Rome, Italy, forty stakeholders – representing governments, fisherfolk organizations, academia, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and international organizations, including FAO, the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Fund (UNEP), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Conservation International, and the World Fund for Nature (WWF) – came together to discuss the design of the national and regional projects under the GEF-financed Coastal Fisheries Initiative (CFI).

The four-day workshop covered a wide range of issues related to the ambitious programme, including various aspect of its design, including: outcomes, indicators, monitoring and evaluation, and collaborative learning designed to share experiences across the regional projects.

The three regional projects that are the focus of the Coastal Fisheries initiative are the following:

  • Latin America (Ecuador and Peru)
  • Western Africa (Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal)
  • Asia (Indonesia)
Group work began getting the regional teams to start working together

The projects cover a wide range of issues related to coastal fisheries in those countries.

In Latin America the project is being developed jointly by the Ministries of Fisheries and the Ministries of Environment in Ecuador and Peru, UNDP, WWF and Conservation International, with UNDP acting as the lead agency.

In formulating the project, both countries realized they face similar challenges in fisheries management. Both countries have seen a decline in fishing since reaching a height in production over three decades ago. Both Ecuador and Peru experience difficulties in reconciling the policies and objectives of fisheries with those of marine protected areas. The two objectives both countries wish to achieve through this project are: 1) addressing the problems of overfishing in the region, and 2) seeking to find the balance between all the competing interests of coastal areas and marine protected areas.

Group work during sessions

Under this project, Ecuador and Peru will concentrate efforts on:

  • Improving fisheries management and governance, especially for artisanal fishers
  • Collaboration on  spatial planning pilots, with a  special emphasis on issues such as oil exploration, electricity and cables and how these activities relate to fisheries management
  • Piloting activities on an Ocean Health Index
  • Document, apply and disseminate lessons learned

Western Africa is an area in which fishing and fisheries activities play an extremely important role, supporting livelihoods and generating revenues for these coastal populations as well as contributing to the national economies of those countries.

The coastal communities in these three countries have been selected because of their diversity of fisheries management and ecosystems, including a small island developing state with pressure on its natural resources, a country with competing interests between small-scale and industrial fisheries, and one with fishing within estuarine and mangrove ecosystems. Working with these diverse communities will also help to transfer experiences and lessons-learned to other, similar African coastal nations.

The project will maintain a strong emphasis on livelihoods of fishing communities, with special attention paid to gender work through women’s cooperatives and associations, areas already well-developed in this region.

The project will be carried out by the Governments of Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal, FAO (acting as lead agency) and UNEP.

In Indonesia, a population of 250 million people spread over 17 000 islands within a nation that is the second-largest fishery producing country with rapidly increasing exports, faces numerous challenges to improving its fisheries management and ensuring decent livelihoods to its coastal populations relying on fisheries for their livelihoods. Indonesia is divided into eleven Fisheries Management Areas, and the project will concentrate on three of its easternmost Fisheries Management Areas (Areas 715, 717, and 718). One of the areas of focus will also be working with Indonesian fishers to emphasize a need for better traceability, and the increased acceptance and use of certification schemes, which should allow fisher men and women to benefit more from rapidly increasing trade. The project will also emphasize better ecosystem resilience to climate change.

The project will be carried out by the Indonesian government, WWF (acting as lead agency), and Conservation International.

The Latin America team brainstorms ideas for closer collaboration with West Africa and Indonesia

Cross-regional learning to improve the lives of coastal fishers

One of the most important aspects of the Coastal Fisheries Initiative is its emphasis on ‘collaborative learning’ – ensuring that the experiences, failures and successes of the regional projects are shared across the three regions and beyond, allowing each of the regional projects to benefit from the lessons learned and expertise gained in other developing countries.

During the four days of the workshop, the stakeholders worked closely together to design projects that would benefit vulnerable coastal communities reliant upon fisheries for their livelihoods. Although the challenges the fisher men and women face on three different continents vary greatly, many aspects of achieving food security and securing decent livelihoods for these developing countries remain similar and provide opportunities for collaboration across regions to develop sound policies and strategies.

Somplehi Micheline Dion, Women’s Program Coordinator from Côte d’Ivoire’s African Confederation of Small-Scale Fisheries Professional Organizations spoke about how the full involvement of civil society organizations such as hers have been instrumental in setting up the regional projects, and how crucial it is to keep them fully involved through all phases of the project. Ministry officials agreed that collaboration with civil society was an important aspect of the programme, and one in which they could learn from actions taken in each of the three regions.

Group work began getting the regional teams to start working together

This intensive collaboration at the outset of the Coastal Fisheries Initiative resulted in strong ties between various stakeholders in the three regions, and initial dialogues that must continue throughout the five years of this programme, particularly to achieve the cross-regional collaborative learning that forms such a crucial element of CFI. Participants in the ambitious Coastal Fisheries Initiative are eager to play an important role working together and with civil society groups to improve the lives of coastal fishermen and women.

According to Leah Karrer, Senior Environmental Specialist at GEF “This opportunity for stakeholders to gather together for four days of intensive dialogue in Vitorchiano has been an important first step in building the relationships and friendships that will help the regional projects to reach out to the others and to learn and adjust from the experiences and lessons learned in other regions.”

Jackie Alder, FAO’s Senior Fishery Industry Officer and the Chair of the CFI Global Steering Committee agreed, “Bringing all the partners together at this early stage has been an extremely helpful step ahead for this programme. We’ve been excited to see the level of commitment and the genuine enthusiasm for all partners to work together and to share their insight and expertise as we all work towards a common goal – improving the lives of coastal fishing communities in developing countries.”

Watch these pages for more information about the Coastal Fisheries Initiative, including short videos with all workshop participants about the projects taking shape in their regions and what they most expect to gain from collaborative learning with other regional projects.

Early morning mist in medieval Vitorchiano
A touch of color in Vitorchiano
The medieval gates and towers of Vitorchiano

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