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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
Background Fisheries are one of the most significant renewable resources that Eastern-Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region (ESA-IO) countries have for food security, livelihoods and economic growth based on sustainable resources management plans and there is significant potential for value-added production. As populations in these countries continue to grow, the future benefits that these resources can provide will require balancing the increasing demands on fisheries, with the capacity of oceanic, coastal and freshwater fish stocks to sustain those harvests.

Davide Signa/FAO

The SmartFish Programme aims at contributing to an increased level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the ESA-IO through improved capacities for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources.
The programme is financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund and is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in collaboration with the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Other regional institutions involved include the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and regional fisheries management organizations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), and the Lake Tanganyika Fisheries Organization (LTFO). The ultimate beneficiaries of the Programme will be the fishermen, coastal communities and wider populations of the ACP States of the ESA-IO region covered by the 10th EDF Regional Indicative Program. It is furthermore expected that diverse stakeholder groups will draw specific direct and indirect benefits from the SmartFish programme. Components of the Smart Fish Programme

The Programme aims at achieving five main results. These relate to:

  • Fisheries Management
  • Fisheries Governance
  • Monitoring, Control and Surveillance
  • Trade
  • Food Security
Beneficiary countries

The program’s intended beneficiary countries include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Though they may not benefit from 10th EDF ESA-IO funds, Mozambique and South Africa are involved as members of SADC and through the Inter-Regional Coordination Committee (IRCC) framework.

Réunion Island (France) will also participate in the Programme as a member of the IOC; although not as a financial beneficiary.

Programme Management

The Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) as Regional Authorizing Officer (RAO) of the European Development Fund (EDF) is the Contracting Authority. The programme is implemented in close collaboration with COMESA, EAC and IGAD.

A Programme Management Unit has been established to assist with the implementation of the project and is based in IOC Headquarters in Mauritius. FAO is co-implementing the SmartFish Programme on matters related to fisheries development and management and to food security.

Davide Signa/FAO
Fisheries Development and Management

An Action Plan is prepared for fisheries management and development for the ESA-IO region. The potential contribution of fisheries in the ESA-IO region is much higher than is currently realized.

This component of the Programme will address, inter alia, the following issues:

  • The weakness of fisheries policies and inadequacies in legal and regulatory frameworks of the sector: These have led to the suboptimal utilization of natural resource and often resulted in stagnating or declining catches. Specific capacities need to be improved to ensure the sustainability of the resources on which fisheries and aquaculture production is based. Increased benefits from the sector can indeed be expected if based on proper resource management.
  • The poor quality of information: Information systems have proved insufficient to guide policy development and resources management at the national and regional level. This is further aggravated by the fact that is information is mainly collected for the large scale commercial sector because this is easier and provides net revenues. The small scale sector, however, produces the bulk of the locally consumed catch and is often not given due attention because of the technical difficulties involved.
  • The general lack of human and institutional capacity: this is especially the case when dealing with the multifaceted aspect of fisheries and aquaculture policy development and resource management.
  • Improvement of this capacity through appropriate training, institutional support and the establishment of networks and partnerships will be essential for the sustainable development of the sector.

These issues will be addressed in general terms as well as through specific applications, e.g. for specific fisheries and inland water bodies.

Food Security

An action plan for fish and fish products, food security, and nutrition is developed and fisheries and aquaculture are integrated within overall food security strategies.

The programme will aim at establishing a planned process for achieving food security. The following four dimensions of food security will be addressed:

  • Food availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports.
  • Food access: Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
  • Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met.
  • Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times, with reduce risk of losing access to food due to sudden shocks.

The Programme will assist with integrating fisheries and aquaculture into national and regional food security action plans. It will also assist with the implementation of selected actions identified as especially relevant and which, inter alia, relate to:

  • Improved knowledge and preparedness to climate change impacts on fisheries;
  • Capacity building in post harvest assessments;
  • Reduction of post harvest losses in the food chain;
  • The promotion of aquaculture;
  • Diversification initiatives in favour of coastal fisheries communities.

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