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ACFR - Papers presented at the second session of the Working Party on Small-scale Fisheries. Bangkok, Thailand, 18-21 November 2003.

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5. THE EFFECTS OF PIPS ON RESEARCH AND THE SLS OF FISHING COMMUNITIES


5.1 General analysis of PIPs and their effects on the fisheries sector and the SLs of artisanal fishing communities

General analysis demonstrates that the most striking fact about the PIPs has been the structural adjustment policies on-going in different countries since the beginning of the ‘90s. This deals essentially with:

(a) Government disengagement. This disengagement touched primarily on the production sector, supply of production factors (materials and fisheries inputs), marketing, the different governments focusing much more on regulation and control issues.

(b) making communities responsible for the handling of functions, formerly the responsibility of public structures. This process of responsibility assumption has been marked not only by the emergence of professional organizations, but in particular local powers (local autorities) through various decentralization processes.

This situation has had multifarious effects in the fisheries sector, both at support institution level and on the SLs of fishing communities

The notable positive effects have been:

(a) The emergence or strengthening of professional organization in the fisheries sector. This dynamic concerns all the socio-professional categories: fishermen, wholesalers, boat-owners, service providers, processors. In all the countries covered by the study, the emergence of professional associations has been noted. This is the case of ADAMAM in Cameroon, CONAPEG in Guinea, APRAM and APPM in Mali, FNP in Mauritania, FISON, NUFSD and NAFFA in Nigeria, CNPS, FENAGIE-P, FENAMS in Senegal.

(b) The emergence of local powers (local collectivities) within which fisheries professionals are integral parts.

(c) Amendments to principles of application of legislation in the fisheries sector. In some cases the inflexibility in application of laws and codes has progressively given way to participatory approaches and even to responsibility assumption by fishing communities. The example of Mali is given with grassroots community participation in preparation of local conventions to govern exploitation and management of fisheries research (case of the 5th region in Mali).

(d) The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) has also emerged as a genuine instrument for fisheries management. It has thus influenced the conduct of a substantial amount of research on the provision of decision-making material in the area of fisheries development and the utilization and management of fishery resources in all the countries under study. This, for example, is the case in Mauritania where the provision by research of material to assist in decision-making has led to the promulgation of Decree 2000-024 on a fisheries code based on the CCRF.

Even if the CCRF does not appear to have had a major impact on multidisciplinarity within the research teams, nor on the level of social science skills available to them, it nevertheless is evident that it has further encouraged participatory approaches, with greater consideration of the human dimension in research and development activities. However, it should be noted, that for the time being there is no mechanism permitting a correct evaluation of CCRF’s impact on fishing in general and fisheries research in particular.

The negative effects of the PIPs which have affected the SLs of fishing communities are:

(a) Disappearance of support services to the fisheries sector or abrupt dropping of some functions at a time when the fishing communities were insufficiently organized to take over. This reflects the present reality observed in most countries concerned by the study. Professional organizations only existing in name, are very fragile, without any solid basis and possess little negotiating capacity. They handle issues of supply of factors of production, funding of activities (credit), marketing.

Such discrepancies reflect the poor Government commitment to preparing a hand over, which has had an effect on communities’ SLs by affecting their capacities: difficult access to credit, drop in purchasing power (inflation), problems in supplies of factors of production, low level of access to basic social services (health, education....)

(b) Reduction in Government investment capacities for the satisfaction of certain social needs (health, education, roads ...) for artisanal fishing communities. This situation is due principally to the fact that Governments are subject to structural adjustment programmes and have several priorities which cannot all be achieved because of a lack of financial resources.

(c) Government inability to effectively control prices, thus leading to price rises in factors of production and inputs. In most countries, this factor has had adverse effect on the financial capital of fishing communities, all socio-professional groups (fishermen, wholesalers, processors, mechanics, producers of gear, boat owners....).

(d) Institutional instability of support structures in the fisheries sector. Public institutions (research and support structures) have embarked on restructuring exercises in a bid to achieve efficiency and enhanced ability to undertake their new functions. This has caused institutional instability which has weakened the capacity of some institutions (problems introducing a policy of staff promotion, unstable policies on activities).

In addition to these structural adjustment policies, other sub-regional monetary policies such as the devaluation of the CFA franc (CFAF) have had deleterious effects on the SL of fishing communities. The devaluation of the CFAF in particular contributed to an increase in production costs, simultaneously provoking a fall in purchasing power of the artisanal fishing communities.

Finally, the effect of some national policies on SLs of fisheries communities needs to be highlighted. This is the case for example, with the policy of centralized decision-making in the fisheries sector in Nigeria, which risks the use of inappropriate regulations, far removed from the reality on the ground, in the grassroots communities.

5.2 PIPs and their effects on fisheries research

Just as for the fisheries sector in general, macroeconomic policies have had various effects on fisheries research.

The positive aspects have been primarily:

(a) Restructuring within research institutions with the aim of improving their efficiency and promoting development-focused research. It is with this consideration that some institutions have changed their status from that of a public administrative establishment (PAE) to public scientific and technical establishments (PSTE) thus rendering management more flexible and facilitating the introduction of incentive measures for outputs and for directing research towards development needs. This is the case with institutions such as IER and ISRA to which CRODT is attached.

(b) The creation of exchange mechanisms with users, thus permitting them to participate in the selection of priorities for research. Although this might appear limited, the case of regional committees of users of research results (RCUs) in Mali should be noted, even if it is a global mechanism implemented by the IER to ensure linkages with users. Furthermore, it is through such a mechanism that partnership between groups of processors was established (via the RCU) and research to improve the extraction and conservation of «Tinéni» oil effected.

The negative points are those relating to the following aspects:

(a) Low priority rating given to fisheries resources in the area of financial resource allocation. This situation, experienced in almost all the countries studied (with the exception of some countries like Mauritania) is due to the fact that the governments fixed new priorities in view of structural adjustment, relegating research to the background.

Consequently, and for some countries like Mali, the government contribution does not exceed 30 percent (mainly operational costs - salaries and other current charges), a major part of funding (at least 70 percent) coming from external sources. Such a situation limits intervention capacities and in some cases hinders a clearer focusing of actions on community needs.

(b) Institutional instability linked to restructuring, with its consequences on the performance of some institutions. In this way, the frequent changes of ministerial or institutional supervision has prevented improvement in performance (difficulties in promoting a true policy for strengthening human and financial resources...) of some research institutions, as has been the case in Nigeria.

5.3 Priority given to the fisheries sector

Generally speaking, the actions developed in the area of fisheries fall into the framework of priorities identified by countries under poverty alleviation. This reflects the importance that the policies give to artisanal fishing in poverty alleviation among the disadvantaged groups. This vision must however, be qualified by the fact that in some cases the reality leans more towards industrial fishing as a source of foreign exchange. This is the case, for example, for Guinea where arrangements or investments for industrial-scale fishing are clearly highlighted in the strategic document on poverty alleviation (SDPA). In the «draft» of this strategic document, in Cameroon, only superficial reference is made to artisanal fisheries.

This paradox is also highlighted by policies related to fisheries agreements and the difficulties of applying the regulations (a situation experienced particularly in Guinea) with consequences on the SLs of artisanal fishing communities:

(a) Strengthening fisheries over-capacities (national job reduction and its effects)

(b) Dysfunctionality of the inter-fisheries management system (spatial competition between industrial and artisanal fishing with frequent conflicts and damage to gears). Thus, in some countries such as Nigeria, capital losses linked to this threat within the community has been evaluated at 135 000 Naira per fishing season, this loss rising to between 252 000 and 336 000 naira per month during a good fishing season.

(c) Disorganization of product marketing mechanisms (products of national boat owners are less competitive on the international market).

As regards fisheries research in particular, the major asset is that most of the research activities are already part of the priorities identified in the strategic research plans approved by political authorities.

However, the so-called priority given to the fisheries sector under poverty alleviation, cannot be seen anywhere if one looks at resource allocation levels. As underscored earlier in Part 4, with the exception of Mauritania, governments have made little effort to put in place a sustainable funding mechanism for fisheries research institutions.

This instability or uncertainty in financial matters is a common concern observed within agricultural research institutions in Africa.

Experiments are presently on-going in some countries like Senegal with the National Fund for Agricultural and Agro-allied Research (NFAAR). Fisheries research activities are eligible under this fund, and there is work being done with a view to ensuring sustainability of funding and to link this with the real research needs expressed by users and development priorities. They are nevertheless competitive funds.


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