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Stephen Cunningham, Boubacar Ba and Sidi el Moctar ould Iyaye


This paper considers the difficulties and obstacles met in particular by States (rather than regional organizations) in implementing existing fisheries instruments, the way that these difficulties might be overcome, the lessons that have been learnt and the gaps which continue to exist. The paper draws on the experience of Mauritania and Senegal. It is important to note that, given the nature of the terms of reference, the paper focuses extensively on problems. This approach is not intended to be critical of the fisheries policy adopted by the two countries but rather to focus on areas where improvement appears possible. In both cases, fisheries policy has evolved substantially in the appropriate direction in recent years and the hope is that this paper may highlight some areas where it is possible to build on the progress achieved so far.


1.1 Mauritania

Until the late 1970s fishing in Mauritanian waters was undertaken almost exclusively by large foreign fishing vessels, principally large trawlers exploiting cephalopods and demersal species, together with some large pelagic trawlers fishing for small pelagics. During the 1980s, Mauritanian companies and individuals began to take an interest in the fishing industry following the declaration of a 200-mile EEZ in 1978. To begin with, investment was made in units similar to the existing foreign ones. It was only in the 1990s that interest began to develop in small scale fisheries, most of which are thus of relatively recent origin. Even now, a coastal fishery sector (in the sense that this term is generally understood) hardly exists at all.

Although the small-scale and coastal segments are of recent origin, the government has already recognised the need for their management. Decree N° 2002-073, which is the general implementing instrument for the Fisheries Code (Law N° 2000-025), provides a precise definition of both segments. According to this Decree:

The fish resources of most importance to the small-scale and coastal sector are:

The small-scale segment is quite diverse with a number of different types of vessel. Most common (around 60 percent of the total) are wooden dories (pirogues) between 8 and 15 m in length with an outboard motor varying between 15 and 40 HP. About a quarter of the segment comprises plastic (polyester) vessels 8-12 m in length with outboards between 25 and 40 HP. About 10 percent are aluminium dories with similar characteristics in terms of length and motor.

In addition to the outboard fleet, there are around 60 wooden or steel vessels using small inboard motors (around 40 HP).

Finally there are nine steel coastal vessels with larger inboard motors (100 - 200 HP).

In the Banc d'Arguin National Park, there is a traditional fishery comprising some 80 or so small sailed-powered vessels some 6-8 m in length (so-called "lanches").

The recent nature of the small-scale fishery means that participants come from a wide range of origins. Traditional fishers are the Imraguen (relatively few in number - about 6 percent of the total number of small scale fishers) fishing in the north of the country, in and around the Banc d'Arguin area, and the Wolof in the south, in the N'Diado area (around 30 pecent). With the severe drought in the Sahel area in recent decades, numerous Mauritanians have taken up fishing, and these so-called neo-fishers now comprise the largest group (some 33 percent). Finally, a number of foreign artisanal fishers (29 percent) work in Mauritania, largely within the framework of the Mauritania-Senegal fishing agreement.

1.2 Senegal

Senegal on the other hand is a traditional fishing nation with a long history of small-scale and coastal fishing. The coastal demersal resources targeted by the small-scale fishery include crustaceans (shrimp, crayfish), cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish) and high-valued fish (such as sea breams, soles and thiof). These resources are fished by the small-scale segment using a variety of fishing gears, such as lines, set nets, and traps.

In recent years, overexploitation of these resources has reduced stock sizes leading to a decline in specialisation by gear type. The tendency now is for fishers to reduce risk by becoming more and more versatile, combining the three gear types in one fishing operation.

Two vessel types are used. The first is a wooden dory ("pirogue") of some 16 to 18 m long, using ice to hold the catch on board in insulated boxes. These vessels generally have 40HP outboard motors and six members of crew. The second is a smaller wooden dory of some six to eight metres long, using a 15HP outboard motor.


The bio-ecological, social, economic and institutional objectives set for the fisheries sector relate of course to the overall political and economic development of the country. This section briefly discusses this background before turning specifically to the four sets of objectives.

In both countries, the overall goal for the sector is to achieve transparent and sustainable management of natural resources for well-being of current and future populations. This goal is clarified through certain key policy documents.

In the case of Mauritania, the Government's 1998 management and development strategy for the fisheries sector sets out four objectives:

In addition to this sectoral vision, national policy trends impact upon the fisheries sector. Among the most important of these are:

Finally, the Strategic Framework in the Fight against Poverty defines the main goals of economic and social policy for the period 2001-2015. This document brings together the various sectoral visions. Its principal themes are:

Due to their potential in terms of employment creation and food security, development of the small-scale and coastal fisheries segments is a priority both for the Fight against Poverty and the Fisheries Sectoral Strategy.

The Mauritanian government has adopted a step-by-step approach to the development of its fishery management system that draws on international instruments. Following the development of the 1998 "Strategy for the Management and Development of the Fisheries Sector and the Maritime Economy", the Fisheries Law was updated in 2000 to allow for its implementation. A decree was enacted in 2002 which in turn allows the implementation of the law. The final element in the process is the development and implementation of fishery management plans for the major fisheries. At the moment therefore the Mauritanian experience is instructive on the establishment of a fishery management framework but less so on the implementation of this framework. It is in this area that work is currently ongoing. The Government expects to have an operational fishery management plan for its key resources (especially octopus) in 2003.

A somewhat similar approach has been adopted in the case of Senegal. A Maritime Fisheries Law (No. 98/32) was enacted on 14 April 1998. The implementation of this Law is through a "Sustainable Development Strategy" which was developed in 2001. As with Mauritania, Senegal is now in the position of attempting to develop fishery management plans to implement this strategy.

Both countries have adopted therefore a cascade structure where a broad sectoral strategy and legal structure are first established. This provides an enabling environment within which increasingly focussed legal instruments have been adopted to enable the implementation of Government policy for the sector.

In accordance with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), both countries have clearly identified the management authority. In each case, a Ministry has the responsibility. In the case of Mauritania, the responsibility lies with the Ministry for Fisheries and the Maritime Economy (MFME). In developing the strategy, law, decree and now management plans referred to above, this Ministry has always paid close attention to the issue of sustainability, so as to meet its legal requirements and conform to voluntary international agreements.

2.1 Bio-ecological objectives

Article 3 of the Mauritanian Fisheries Law (2000-025) says that "the State defines a strategy which seeks to protect its resources and allow their sustainable exploitation in such a way as to maintain ecosystem equilibrium and the aquatic habitat".

In order to attain the bio-ecological goal (together with other objectives), Article 22 of the Law stipulates that fishing activities require the prior authorisation of the Minister for Fisheries and that "no fishing vessel, national or foreign, may fish in Mauritanian waters unless it holds a licence or fishing permit".

Article 31 of the Law expressly forbids the use of explosive or toxic substances for fishing and also makes it illegal to have such substances onboard the vessel.

Article 32 expressly forbids the fishing, capture or retention onboard of all species of marine mammal and turtles, as well as the hunting, capture or retention of all species of seabird. The marketing of these species is also forbidden.

Senegalese fisheries policy incorporates a similar set of bio-ecological goals. The 2001 sustainable development strategy seeks explicitly to:

The 1998 Maritime Fisheries Law includes regulatory measures of an ecological nature including mesh size restrictions, banning of explosives and toxic substances, an extended list of protected marine species, an increased non-trawling area designed to protect coastal ecosystems and measures to protect marine mammals.

Article 26 of this Law gives the Minister the right to suspend or revoke fishing licences for reasons relating to fishery management plans or simply because of an unanticipated development in the state of the fish stocks.

2.2 Social objectives

Article 3 of the Mauritanian Fisheries Law states that "the biological resources constitute a national heritage which the State is required to manage in the national interest". Other than this, social objectives are given little explicit recognition.

In an attempt to limit post-harvest losses, which do have a social dimension, Article 21 of the Law stipulates that a Decree should be enacted that would restrict discarding at sea.

Issues relating to the working environment (health and safety, equity) are in principle covered by the National Labour Law, which covers all types of labour. However, systems of social security and insurance have yet to be put into place for the small-scale and coastal fisheries segments. Fishing safety together with anti-pollution measures are covered by Law 1995-09 which concerns the Merchant Navy, Law 2002-04 which relates to the organization of search and rescue activities at sea, and a Statutory Instrument (n° 33) which concerns the minimum safety requirements for ships and artisanal vessels. A draft law has been prepared concerning the maritime environment.

The issue of promoting mariculture is not relevant at the moment given its low priority in Mauritania. However, efforts are underway to develop aquaculture at inland sites.

The Senegalese sustainable development strategy includes a component to "enhance the value of fish production". Among target activities are: to reduce post-harvest losses at sea by using more selective fishing gear, to improve handling and quality onboard vessels, to reduce post-harvest losses of landed fish, to improve the transport system from landing to market.

The issues covered by the working environment are partially covered. To increase safety is a primary objective of the authorities. It is a legal requirement for instance to wear lifejackets and to use safety equipment and lights onboard the pirogues. Failure to observe these safety rules is a punishable offence. Despite these efforts, in practice the non-observance of the rules continues to be the norm.

Health and equity tend not to be priority issues. The environment within which the fishers operate tends to be one characterised by a lack of social protection, illiteracy, and a lack of collective infrastructure. Such an environment has negative repercussions on the health of the populations.

The current management system does not address questions of equity. There is no control over how much of the resource is taken by different actors, and as a result users of different gear types blame one another for overfishing.

A lot remains to be done in the social area. Priority issues including underage working, lack of schooling, and lack of social protection.

It seems clear in the case of both countries that social objectives have been incorporated into fisheries policy to a much lesser extent than bio-ecological ones. This is somewhat ironic given that the ultimate aim of fisheries exploitation and management is presumably to achieve social and economic goals, subject to the bio-ecological constraints imposed by the resource and by nature in general.

2.3 Economic objectives

The need to bring fishing capacity into line with the fishing possibilities offered by the resource is widely recognised. This issue features in the 1998 Mauritanian Strategy document. In line with the CCRF, the 2002 Decree specifies the broad content of the management plans which must be developed and implemented for the major fisheries. Among the requirements for a management plan are to:

The issue of eliminating subsidies does not arise. In fact, given the importance of the fishing sector for the Mauritanian economy, the small-scale and coastal sectors are required to contribute to the general exchequer through the payment of an access fee. Although positive, such payments are currently small and a significant issue for the Government is how to combine its objective of extracting rent from the resource with its objective of developing the small-scale and coastal segments.

The Decree addresses to some extent the issue of IUU. In the case of under-sized species it is forbidden not only to catch and retain them but also to sell, buy, transport or use them in any manner. A similar restriction applies to berried crayfish.

The Senegalese Fisheries Law 98/32 instituted a system of annual or multi-annual fishery management plans. This idea was taken forward by the sustainable development strategy which proposes a fishery management system including the management of fishing capacity.

Subsidies continue to be granted in an attempt to encourage the development of desirable economic activities. There is no reason to believe that Government policy is about to change on this issue.

The legal framework to prevent illegal fishing is well established (ban of transhipment of catch not authorised by the Law, size and weight restrictions) but its application is ineffective. Problem areas include the export and/or local marketing of immature fish and the catching of unauthorised species (e.g. marine turtles).

The implementation of fishery management plans is held up by the fact that the nature of fishing rights giving access to the resource remains to be defined. Regulatory measures concerning fishing capacity have yet to be taken.

2.4 Institutional objectives

The institutional objectives which flow from the various international instruments have been broadly incorporated into Mauritanian fisheries policy.

The need to use the best available scientific information taking into account socio-economic studies and traditional knowledge is adopted more or less verbatim into Article 2 of the Decree. This Article stipulates that management plans must be developed on the basis of scientific advice together with socio-economic studies and in collaboration with professional organizations and the National Consultative Council for Fisheries Management and Development.

Data are widely collected on the sector and its performance. If anything, there is too much information from different sources (research, Ministry, monitoring and control, SMCP, customs, central bank and others). Although this information is widely disseminated, there is a need for a fisheries information system that can reconcile different data sources.

The precautionary approach has been integrated into the new Law. Article 28 states that the Ministry may refuse to grant or renew a fishing licence if the precautionary principle so dictates, and Article 6 sets out, in general terms, the precautionary measures that the Government should take in the event of unforeseen developments in the case of a fishery or in the case of fish resources in general.

A system of monitoring, control and surveillance exists. The heart of this system is the DSPCM, but this Direction is supported by numerous other institutions, including various Departments of the Ministry, the Research Institute (IMROP), and the fish marketing organization (SMCP).

The requirement for a transparent and participative decision-making process is also included in the Law. Article 12 establishes a Consultative Council for Fisheries Management and Development. The attributions, operations and composition of this Council are to be established by the Council of Ministers on the basis of a proposal made by the Fisheries Minister.

The need to collaborate with other countries so as to promote responsible fishing has also been recognised legally. Article 11 of the Law foresees the establishment of a consultative framework at the regional and sub-regional levels when fishery management plans are being developed concerning shared stocks. The goal is to harmonise national fishing plans.

The need to promote responsible fishing through education and training is one area where much remains to be done. Mauritania could usefully be supported in this area.

Finally, the need to take account of fishing interests when undertaking coastal area planning is recognised. A draft Law has been prepared on this topic and Article 11 stipulates that the utilisation of the Public Maritime Domain must take into account the current use of maritime and terrestrial natural units, as well as the need to preserve sites, habitat, landscape and biological resources.

Similarly, the eight components of this objective are clearly covered in the Senegalese Law and in the sustainable development strategy.

The issue of participation features in Law 98/32 which proposes the creation of consultative bodies at both national and local levels involving representatives of the administration and socio-professional groups. The idea of these mechanisms is to ensure effective industry participation in the development of fishery management strategies and plans at all levels.

In order to enhance transparency, fishers are represented on the Consultative Commission for Licence Attribution.

In order to improve MCS, the Law requires vessel captains and those responsible for small-scale vessels to provide catch information. Other requirements relate to vessel marking and observer programmes.

Finally, the Law seeks co-operation with third countries on matters concerning fishery management and allows regulatory measures to be taken in all relevant areas.


Until recently fisheries policy priorities tended not to be very clearly established. Sectoral policy documents tended to include a variety of objectives with no indication of relative importance. This absence of priority has often led to incoherence and even contradictions in fisheries policy. In Senegal for instance a fishing effort freeze was imposed for overexploited coastal species at the same time as incentives towards overfishing continued to be given (tax breaks, development of onshore capacity etc). A recent FAO TCP has clearly exposed the inadequacy of sectoral planning in Senegal, emphasising that the priority is to establish a fishery management system based on clear rules concerning access to the resource. This new vision of key objectives for the sector has since been adopted by the authorities.

In this context, international fishery instruments have had a positive impact since they have required States to focus on a range of key objectives (from social through to bio-ecological). The downside however is that the requirements made of managers have become numerous and setting priorities becomes crucial. The more exhaustive the requirements become, the more difficult it becomes to satisfy them in practice, if only because of the problem of funding them all.

The main requirement seems to be for more attention to be paid to social factors, possibly at the expense of bio-ecological ones. Institutional objectives seem generally to have been included. Another issue is how to integrate these objectives.

Despite the progress made, however, neither declarations of intention nor a legal arsenal are sufficient to guarantee an effective system. The next section turns to the issue of the extent to which the objectives set out above have been achieved in practice.


The previous sections show that, in developing fisheries policy, great attention has been paid to incorporating the objectives into policy documents. This section attempts to assess how the factors of non-sustainability have been taken into account, the extent to which objectives have been achieved and where they have not, the reasons why not. It is important to stress that it is still early days for the management system. The process of developing fishery management plans has only just begun. It is interesting to consider that in leading "fish policy" countries such as New Zealand and Iceland the current management systems have developed over more than twenty years (and that they continue to develop). Arguably, one issue that needs to be addressed is the time required to implement change. In many cases, it appears that insufficient time is given to implement one set of institutional arrangements before another set appears, or is at least recommended.

This issue of time is relevant to the examples that it is possible to use. Although the broad objectives of Mauritanian policy and the strategy documents relate to the small-scale and coastal fishery segments in their entirety, so far progress has only really been made in the case of the cephalopod fishery, and even here it is very early. Examples will be drawn largely from this fishery therefore, and especially from the octopus which is the most important of the cephalopods in Mauritania.

4.1 Bio-ecological objective

Although this objective appears to be broadly achieved in Mauritania, its continued achievement is threatened by a number of the factors of non-sustainability identified by previous working groups. The most important of these are:

To the extent that the objective has been achieved, and in an attempt to deal with the current deficiencies, the Government has adopted the following solutions.

The need to protect octopus has been recognised by the public authorities and the necessary capacity has been created to provide such protection. In particular an institutional framework is gradually being developed involving the "Administration" (Ministry, MCS, Research), legal aspects (the Law and its implementing instruments) and a socio-professional organization (National Fisheries Federation). And the political will to manage the resource sustainably has been expressed via national and sectoral policy documents.

The need to support science, planning and MCS has also been explicitly recognised. A national research institute (IMROP) has existed for many years but over the past five years or so, a substantial investment has been made (and continues to be made) in human and other resources. This research institute is charged with providing the "best available scientific information" upon which management plans can be built. At the same time, the Ministry has established a Department (DEARH) whose mission is to develop and monitor management plans, working closely both with research and the profession. Finally, MCS is the responsibility of a Ministry Department (DSPCM) which is increasingly well equipped.

Great stress is laid upon the need for transparency and participation. The major policy and legal documents (Strategy, Law, Decree) that serve as the basis upon which the sector is managed have all been developed in close collaboration with the profession and especially with the Federation. In the case of the management plan being developed for the cephalopod fishery, very wide-ranging consultation and collaboration has taken place, culminating in the creation of a Support and Consultative Committee, with members widely drawn from the Administration, Research and the Profession and charged with developing the plan. This current framework is due to be complemented by the creation of the National Consultative Council, which itself may establish special commissions (with a broad membership, including the Profession) to examine questions relating to particular fisheries.

This process has enabled a certain number of measures relating to access and technical matters to be instituted which have contributed to achieving the bio-ecological goal. Measures to regulate access include:

Technical management measures include:

In Senegal on the other hand the assessment is that the bio-ecological objective remains to be met. The principal problem is that the factors leading to overcapacity and overfishing continue to be important so long as a policy determining access to the resource has not been put in place. The race for fish continues. The main policy gap is a system for the allocation of fishing use rights. The needs to overcome this difficulty include technical assistance (expertise) in fishery management, training in fishery management, appropriate levels of human resources in the fisheries administration, financial resources to accompany the required disinvestment in fishing capacity and the strengthening of MCS capabilities.

4.2 Social objective

Significant progress may have been made in achieving the bio-ecological objective in Mauritania, but the same can hardly be said of the social objective. Almost everything remains to be done.

The Government is acutely aware of the social objective, and attaches particular importance to the need to ensure that the nutritional potential of the available fish resources is utilised in an optimal manner. However, a number of difficulties stand in the way of achieving this goal.

First, Mauritanian fisheries are currently multi-specific. Although some fisheries are highly selective, the best example being pots in the small-scale cephalopod fishery, on the whole fishers find it difficult to be selective in most fisheries with the gears and gear types currently in use. As a result, discarding is a significant issue, especially of low-valued species where the fishers are targeting a high unit-value species. Other species may be exploited only for a part of their body, shark fins or mullet roes for example.

The issue of fish consumption is not simply a supply-side problem however. There is no long tradition of fish consumption in Mauritania, meaning that many of the fish resources which are well considered in other countries find no market in Mauritania. This problem of "tastes" is made worse by the general lack of purchasing power of Mauritanian consumers, especially when compared with rich country markets such as Japan and Europe. As a result, a very high percentage of Mauritania's fish production is exported, and producers concentrate on those species of interest to export markets.

Another aspect of the social agenda concerns working conditions. On the whole, the work environment in the fishing industry is such that it guarantees neither the health nor the safety of the workers, although great efforts have been made to assure the health and safety of consumers, driven of course by the requirements of export markets.

A number of possible areas can be suggested for improvement in order to move towards achieving the social objective. First, the legal and judicial framework within which the industry operates needs to be developed further. It would also be useful to undertake awareness-building campaigns to promote responsible fishing practices, coupling these where possible with some kind of market incentive to encourage the adoption of appropriate practices and the abandonment of inappropriate ones. Pilot projects to reduce discarding and post-harvest losses generally would be useful, although once again these should not be limited to technical solutions but should also consider economic/market mechanisms to persuade or dissuade as appropriate.

As in the case of Mauritania, success is limited in the case of social goals in Senegal. Efforts have been made to reduce post-harvest losses (construction of well-equipped fish markets, cold chain, improvement of some processing sites, and the development of a distribution network). Nonetheless, most of the work remains to be done, especially for artisanal processing where problems of hygiene and quality are keenly felt.

As regards working environment, the current situation is simply one of failure to achieve social goals.

There is currently no policy to promote aquaculture, although an institutional framework does exist (creation of a Department for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture).

Difficulties and obstacles to be overcome relate to a number of factors in each broad area:

Given these difficulties and obstacles, it is possible to identify a number of key needs in order to achieve social goals. These needs relate to training, public investment, credit, information, safety education and awareness, improved fishing equipment, social security, improved sanitary controls and conditions, restricted access and extension programmes concerning aquaculture techniques.

Important instruments which are currently absent or insufficient include an efficient mechanism to plan the activities of the State in fishing, effective credit institutions, mutual health institutions, an effective communication system and a mechanism to allocate fishing rights.

4.3 Economic objective

Discussion of the economic objective is more problematic. The analytical framework proposed for this and the other papers at the Bangkok Workshop describe the economic objective in terms of managing capacity, trade and IUU. This is a rather limited list but more importantly it is one that does not contain the key economic element: resource rent. The need to manage capacity arises in the first place because of a very widespread failure in fisheries management around the world to deal with the issue of resource rent (or, equivalently, to deal with the problem of free and open access).

A key question therefore, is whether anything can be learned from the experience of West African fisheries on this question as well as on the ones proposed by the analytical framework.

If the economic objective is restricted to the analytical framework vision, then the degree of success in Mauritania is very low. However, taking resource rent into account changes this judgement. Mauritania is a country which generates around 25 percent of its Government revenue from the fishing sector. This is an extraordinary performance, reflecting of course the economic importance of the sector, and matched by very few countries around the world. Until the mid-1990s, most of this revenue was generated by the Mauritanian fishing industry itself but a change in management system has meant that the Government has come to rely increasingly on foreign access agreements for this revenue. This change is rather unfortunate because it hamstrings the Government in the development of policy and of the sector.

Until the mid-1990s, the system was based around a State monopsony, whereby all fish that was frozen for export had to be sold through a State company, the SMCP. This system doubtless had defects but it also had strengths, not the least of which was that the small-scale sector made the same contribution (pro-rata to its catches) as the industrial sector (the trawlers) since all fishers paid their taxes on the value of their catch. For reasons that remain somewhat obscure, this system was dismantled in the 1990s and replaced by a licensing system. This latter was intended to generate the same revenue but it has not been able to do so, particularly for the small-scale sector, which has proven difficult to manage under a licensing system. As a result, the Government is faced with an unnecessary conflict in its objectives since on the one hand it wishes to maximise its revenues from the fisheries sector and on the other it wishes to promote the small-scale segment. Under the previous system, no such conflict existed.

This brief account may reveal one factor leading to unsustainability: the difficulty of recognising a good management system when one exists. Or perhaps the difficulty of agreeing what features a good management system should have. The system based around the SMCP was "good" if one thinks that extracting resource rent is an important part of the economic objective; it is not so "good" if one thinks that monopsony is inherently bad and that competition must somehow be created. The crucial requirements seem to be to agree what is the precise objective, and then to be imaginative in seeking solutions.

The attempt to manage capacity has been unsuccessful. A working group of the research institute (then CNROP, now IMROP) in 1998 suggested that effort needed to be reduced by 25 percent in the octopus fishery. As a result the Government implemented a series of measures referred to above, including the effort freeze and closed seasons. These measures seem to have largely failed since the most recent IMROP working group (December 2002) estimates that the effort reduction required is now 30 percent.

Many factors can be cited to explain the problem. Mauritanian fishers, as represented by the Federation, are convinced that the problem arises because of the European fleet fishing under the recent fishing agreement. Although at first sight this appears a reasonable explanation, the situation is complicated and difficult to evaluate - for instance, the EU fishers do not fish the same zone as Mauritanian fishers. It is probably more accurate therefore, to attribute the failure to a range of the factors of non-sustainability, including the following.

The factors identified suggest the kinds of solutions that might be adopted. Overall, the management framework needs to be improved. A key requirement is to identify instruments that will enable fishing capacity and fishing effort to be brought under effective control. These instruments have to be able to apply to a very diverse fleet, ranging from very small artisanal vessels hauling pots, to large freezer trawlers. Licence based systems are notoriously difficult to operate in such circumstances. Systems based on common denominators (the fish, or the money) may have more chance of success.

There is a need to consider the macroeconomic role of the fisheries sector. Where poverty and lack of alternative employment is a problem, it is understandably tempting to use the sector to create jobs and economic activity in general. However, there is a need to consider the limits to such a policy provided by the natural limit of the resource, if by nothing else. A more appropriate long-term policy may be to use the fishing industry (through rent extraction) to fund investment in other productive activities, but this depends on the economy being able to provide appropriate investment opportunities.

Whatever system is adopted, it will require sufficient financial resources to operate effectively.

In Senegal, the overall assessment is that economic goals have not been achieved. A number of difficulties and obstacles can be identified relating to each of the broad themes raised in the terms of reference.

The key problem with the objective of bringing catching capacity into line with the opportunities offered by the resource is once again the absence of a system to define and attribute use rights within fishery management plans. Another factor is the lack of technical and human resources to carry out MCS activities, together with the failure to involve fishers in such activities to try to improve compliance levels.

The application of WTO rules meets a number of problems. Subsidies were initially implemented for two reasons: to increase production by reducing investment and operating costs, and to ensure the availability of fish at reasonable prices on the local market. Removing subsidies will likely have the opposite effects, with increased costs leading to some fishing operations being unable to survive, and prices perhaps increasing. These threats make attempts to remove subsidies unpopular. The issue of marketing illegally caught fish turns on the ability of the MCS and inspection authorities to carry out their functions.

The main needs in order to achieve economic goals relate to the fishery management system itself, both in its conception and its implementation. Support is needed to define an appropriate method to allocate fishing use rights and to regulate access to the resource. Institutional reform is also needed in order to support fishery management with a strengthening of human and technical resources for both research and administration.

The principal instruments that are needed are fishery management plans and an appropriate fiscal policy for the fishery sector.

4.4 Institutional objective

The institutional objective is somewhat different in nature to the other objectives. In many ways, it is not an objective for its own sake but is intended to serve the achievement of the other objectives. The section above on the bio-ecological objective already discusses the main institutional issues and constraints in the case of Mauritania. In addition to the solutions discussed there, it is possible to identify some other key aspects.

First, a precautionary approach has been adopted resulting in fishing effort being frozen at its current level for heavily exploited species as well as for those for which current knowledge is inadequate. This is the case for demersal species on the continental slope, for mullet, for hake, for coastal shrimp and for crab. The biological rest period instituted for octopus is also of a precautionary nature.

Second, a monitoring system has been established involving a range of participants, including:

Third, Mauritania and Senegal collaborate with other countries in order to promote responsible fishing. Both are members of the sub-regional fisheries commission (together with Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Cape Verde). Mauritania currently acts as President of the Council of Ministers. In the context of IUU fishing, co-operative efforts have been undertaken including:

In the case of shared small pelagics, Mauritania and Senegal are developing, with the help of IUCN, a joint project to conserve mullet and courbines.

In Mauritania, a variety of fishing agreements exist, notably with the EU, China, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania. These agreements often include an element of institutional support, concerning for instance research and training. Mauritania also has a bilateral fishing agreement with Senegal.

Within the framework of the SFLP/FAO programme, Mauritania has undertaken a number of activities, including:

The need to take fishing into consideration in coastal area planning is recognised. In the development of offshore petroleum exploration, the needs of the fishing industry had to be taken into account. And the Government has recently forbidden such exploration in the neighbourhood of the Banc d'Arguin National Park.

In Senegal, a number of constraints may be identified that inhibit the achievement of the institutional objective. Such constraints include the following.

The main needs relate to institutional reform so as to improve fisheries management, to adequate funding of MCS, and to information education and awareness-building around the theme of responsible fishing. There is also a need to pay more attention to fisheries issues in coastal area management.


The discussion above suggests that both the Mauritanian and Senegalese governments have come to recognise the need for management of fishery resources in order to ensure that they make an appropriate contribution to social and economic development. The objectives set out in various international fisheries instruments have been broadly incorporated into key policy documents, although progress continues to be required concerning social issues. The issue of economic objectives also warrants some discussion since the crucial issue of resource rent appears not to feature in the international instruments, let alone national policy.

In both countries the key issues are found not in the area of objectives but in the area of policy implementation. As progress is being made towards establishing systems based on fishery management plans to achieve the objectives, needs for technical assistance are gradually being clarified. These needs are discussed throughout the paper. The key issues appear to relate to financial, logistic and human resources for the structures responsible for research and planning and it is in these areas that technical assistance would appear to be most fruitful.

[117] The views expressed are solely those of the authors: Stephen Cunningham, Institut du Développement Durable et des Ressources Aquatiques (IDDRA), Montpellier, France cunningham; Boubacar Ba and Sidi el Moctar ould Iyaye.

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