South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all the delegates to this exciting workshop, here in Grahamstown. The pleasure derives not only from the fact that you are present here in our small Eastern Cape town but also from the nature of the project itself. It is a collaborative and participatory project involving individuals and organizations that share a common ideal of providing access to knowledge as a means of upliftment of African people. The networking aspect is vital - and a modern response to the problem of isolation in physical and economic terms that almost every one of the participants suffers from.
For SAIAB that isolation was particularly hard to endure during the years when South Africa was in the political wilderness. Then we knew of the efforts of the FAO to uplift African fisheries knowledge but were unable to play a part. Now, nearly 10 years after our liberating democracy, we can do so. We are still fairly isolated from the areas where so much of African inland and other small-scale fisheries takes place, but thanks to modern IT that isolation can be overcome. We and our key partners, the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (Rhodes University) and NISC-SA, have over the years built up a fine library of books, journals and articles, as well as so-called grey literature. We have also worked hard together with our partner NISC-SA to ensure that this is accessible to the widest audience possible. Our connections to other libraries dealing with fisheries matters in Africa needs strengthening and extension and there is no better way than by doing this through using the extensive connections of FAO. Through the energies and enthusiasm of both Margaret Crampton of NISC, Jean Collins of FAO and Margie Shaw (SAIAB) this particular networking project has materialized and developed. We in SAIAB are really pleased to be in a position to assist and facilitate the objectives of FAO to provide relevant literature to the libraries that FAO has linked together over the years.
But a particular pleasure derives from the fact that as individuals you are here in person to meet and solve the problems that the project has encountered. It is always easier to solve such problems when you are dealing with a known friend and not just a faceless name. How nice it is to see these African friendships blossoming here in Grahamstown. Thank you for coming and attending the workshop. I trust that your discussions will be warm and fruitful and that at the end you will return to your own libraries better equipped to provide the literature that fisheries in Africa needs for its development and wise management. Enjoy your time in Grahamstown.
Department Ichthyology and Fisheries Science
Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
THE WIDENING GAP
Scientific advances in fisheries science, management and aquaculture are rapid;
Access to new information in Sub-Saharan Africa is either limited, costly or non-existent;
The information/knowledge gap between developed and developing countries is widening into a canyon.
Libraries are bottom of the pile at budgeting time;
No current journal subscriptions;
Increasing frequency of soft science magazines (available for free, e.g. NAGA);
International Foundation for Science (IFS) grant applications must cover literature and books.
Poor access to literature (journals and books) and bibliographies;
Lack of efficient literature distribution networks and funding of networks.
Slow technological progress;
Re-invention of wheels - a waste of scarce resources;
Low scientific publication rate - high rejection rate and demoralising effect on scientists - emigration and a loss to the economy;
Low scientific impact;
Cannot operate at cutting edge;
Scientists use outdated techniques.
Useful but full of donga's (gullies) and potholes;
Several good scientific search engines but getting the goods is expensive;
A lot of junk and student essays disguised as science;
High subscription costs to quality products.
THE WORLD AQUACULTURE SOCIETY (WAS) OUTREACH PROGRAMME
WAS recognises the need for up-to-date information for aquaculture development in developing countries;
Membership dues are too high for scientists in Least Developed Countries;
Electronic membership ($10/annum) - provides access to members section of web page and information;
Journal of the World Aquaculture Society and World Aquaculture to go online 18 months after publication for members;
Distribution of excess books, journal issues and magazine issues (via Rhodes University, Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS) for Africa). High cost of shipment! WAS is seeking corporate sponsorship.
Access to literature and databases to be accepted by donors as top priority and provide funding;
FAO in collaboration with WorldFish Center to seek funding to establish and operate information network (library network) in Sub-Saharan Africa (start small e.g. Rhodes/Domasi/Accra and grow);
Cost of network would be offset against duplication and irrelevant research, enhanced scientific outputs and technological development.
IF NO ACTION IS TAKEN
Research in Africa will continue to stagnate with measurable consequences in terms of all development goals - and no improvements in terms of:
Intellectual capital drain;
Environmental degradation: overfishing, deforestation, poor land use, etc., etc.