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Coastal Fisheries Initiative

West Africa Project

Small-scale fisheries community at work after the landing of the morning’s catch outside Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Delivering sustainable environmental, social and economic benefits in West Africa through good governance, correct incentives and innovation.

In West Africa, coastal fisheries are central to food security, livelihoods, poverty alleviation and economic growth, and play an important role in linking national economies to regional and global markets. Fish and other seafood are harvested in large part by small-scale coastal fishers, and processed and sold by a predominantly female workforce.

However, overexploitation, ecosystem degradation and inefficient value chains have reduced the capacity of capture fisheries to deliver economic benefits to local communities and limited the ability to sustain these resources over time. There is a critical need for better governance and management of fisheries resources and a more equitable distribution of economic benefits along the value chain.

The CFI project in West Africa is implemented by FAO in Cabo Verde, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire, in collaboration with UNEP and the respective national administrations. Working at local pilot sites and at the national level, the project provides technical assistance to stakeholders to improve fisheries governance and management and value-chain performance through implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries, and the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines and other relevant international instruments. The project pays particular attention to strengthening access and user rights, co-management and gender equality, while supporting improved working conditions, product quality and market access along the value chain.

Although activities are primarily country-based, important links will be made at the regional level (e.g. with the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission – SRFC – and the Fishery Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea - FCWC) and at the African Union policy level, supporting political commitment to fisheries reform, as well as with other initiatives in the region.