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The September 2000 Millennium Development Compact and the subsequent 2002 Monterrey Consensus (emanating from the UN Financing for Development Conference) call for concerted action on the major developmental challenges of the day. A central concern is human poverty (MDG-Goal 1) - as fifty-four countries are poorer, twenty-one have more people going hungry, thirty four have seen life expectancy decline and the Human Development Index has fallen in twenty-one since 1990 (World Bank, 2003: 2). In 2000, 1100.2 million people - 21.6 percent of the global population - survived on less than US$1.08 a day, with the numbers falling below this benchmark growing markedly in most regions of the world since 1990[45]. Poverty is likely to remain a crucial - if not the fundamental - policy objective in the international development discourse then.

This increased international preoccupation with poverty has manifested itself in the emergence of PRSPs, completion of which is obligatory for low-income countries intent on accessing IMF and/or World Bank concessional lending facilities. These participatory country-owned policy documents, which are "expected to be framed against the backdrop of the MDGs" (IMF, 2003:4), should contain clearly presented and costed macroeconomic, structural and social policy priorities to alleviate poverty - along with a series of intermediate and final targets, associated indicators, and the intended monitoring systems. They also provide a framework for improved coordination of development efforts; Country Assistance Strategies devised by the Bank being expected to temporally follow (and be based upon) nationally produced PRSPs, bilateral aid programmes of the USA, UK and Germany (to name but three) being in concordance with the aims, objectives and policy initiatives proposed in such documents, and EU Country Strategy Papers complementing the same.

Elsewhere (in countries not under the constraint of having to produce a PRSP), developmental objectives are identified, targets set and monitoring systems agreed within the framework of NDPs (case of Peru, Botswana, Thailand, Bulgaria, and Antigua), Medium Term Economic and Financial Strategies (case of Gabon, Belize), Government Programmes (case of Chile, Equatorial Guinea, Ukraine, and Cape Verde), or similar[46]. The question is, how does/can fisheries be integrated into this framework of nationally owned development programmes and complementary donor support programmes?

We contend the sector can - in certain countries - have a particularly important role to play in the national development process on two counts. First, in terms of its value as a motor of growth and/or improved domestic nutritional uptake. The establishment of 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and a development doctrine (neo-liberalism) that espoused the exploitation of natural comparative advantage prompted fleet expansion and the development of aquaculture across the developing world (Thorpe and Bennett, 2001:147ff). Fisheries growth - to the point where the developing economies now supply more than 70 percent of total fish for food production (IFFPRI, 2003:4) - was reflected in a growing aquatic resource contribution to GDP, exports and domestic nutrient availability in a number of countries. Equally (second), fisheries is a potential beneficiary of the new poverty-oriented development programmes in those instances when individuals, groups and communities linked to the sector are identified as inherently poor and/or latently vulnerable. These criteria then provide a convenient basis for identifying - and thereby differentiating between - countries according to the relative importance of their respective fisheries sectors in development terms (Table 5.1)

Fisheries appears to be significant as a motor of growth within forty-four states, mainly drawn from the African (7 PRSP states, 5 other states), Asian (12 cases) and SIDS (15 cases) regions. Although the sample is much reduced (sixty-three countries) for the equity scatter-grams, seventeen states - largely from Africa and Asia (seven cases apiece) - exhibit pronounced levels of rural poverty and fisheries-related employment, with twelve countries acknowledged under both criteria. The question is though - does sectoral significance in growth and/or equity terms translate into a more effective mainstreaming of fisheries into national development agendas and donor support programmes? (and, conversely of course, is the sector relatively neglected in those countries with a negligible - or less important (at least in terms of our analytic criteria) - fisheries sector?).

To this end, PRSPs, NDPs and World Bank and EU donor support programmes for a large sub-set of developing countries were obtained and subjected to detailed analysis. Four assessment criteria were identified; Issues, Causal Links, Responses and Processes (see Box 5 earlier):

Fisheries Issues: Many of the national policy documents acknowledged the size of the sector and its present (or potential) contribution to GDP, exports, earnings and employment. Concerns about the sustainability of current fishing levels or practices were frequently aired, and the need for improved territorial control/surveillance mechanisms and institutional coordination also featured highly. Country-specific issues such as the; conflict-induced slump in inland fisheries production (Sierra Leone) and effects of war (Sri Lanka), EU bans on fish exports (Uganda), effects of the shrimp white spot virus (Venezuela), the invasive nature of water hyacinth (Rwanda), eco-tourism oriented fly-fishing opportunities (Bhutan) and the strategic significance of Lake Sevan (Armenia) were also mentioned. Peru and Estonia go as far as to produce a SWOT analysis of the sector, the Cameroon, Fiji and Senegal, Cambodia and Philippines identify sectoral constraints and potential, while the Maldives enunciates twelve clear issues which are pre-occupying planners.

By and large, the donor support documents reflected similar issues as we might expect - albeit with a more pronounced "commercial" emphasis in the EU CSPs on impediments to growth (c.f. Angola), trade (Peru, Malaysia) and foreign investment in the sector (Brazil), past programmes of reciprocal cooperation (Argentina), local licensing regimes (Kiribati), consequences of losing ACP - or regaining GSP - status (Maldives and Thailand respectively), and the extent of donor support for the sector (Eritrea). The CAS cover similar ground, although choose to; highlight the sector's comparative advantage (PNG) and proposed modernization (Philippines), underline past structural reforms (Mauritania), detail port privatization (Tunisia) and mention fraud - vis-à-vis licence distribution (Madagascar).

Causal Links: Emphasis on causal linkages between fisheries and poverty-related issues was much more superficial - even in the case of those economies producing PRSPs - and tended to allude to, rather than analyse such, linkages. Hence the fisheries sector is seen as underpinning subsistence lifestyles and providing low incomes, or mention (unelaborated) is made as to the role the sector could play in alleviating poverty and vulnerability. Some documents (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Azerbaijan, Philippines) signal the association between poverty and environmental degradation - most notably through overfishing. The majority of such references relate to poverty identification - the best being the Belizean and Ghanaian which uses micro-economic household data to identify traditional fishers as being extremely poor - with less emphasis being given to considerations which attempt to tackle such linkages (poverty alleviation). Examples of the latter include; the proposed plan to encourage fish consumption (Peru), the need to gain an improved EU Agreement (Mauritania), generate gainful employment (India), and the need to overcome resource access constraints (Cambodia and Tonga).

The Cameroon PRSP is the most expansive in identifying said linkages, extending from comments made in the round-robin of participatory meetings through to the highlighting of fisheries-related constraints which presently frustrate the alleviation of poverty.

Donor programmes are similarly bereft of such references. The most detailed responses are to be found in the Venezuelan and Guinean EU Country Strategy Papers and both the Belizean EU CSP and the World Bank CAS. Yet even where such reflections do appear, they are more related to identifying - than alleviating - fisheries-related poverty. This relative failing - of both NDPs and donor support programmes - merits highlighting insofar as such "benign neglect" could unintentionally sponsor the design and implementation of aquaculture and/or fisheries development policies that exacerbate poverty rather than help reduce it.

Responses: A wide array of policy responses are noted in the documents encompassing the; creation of marine parks, construction of new landing facilities/harbours, provision of improved fisheries information, provision of fishing inputs, upgrading of health and sanitary procedures, improvement of surveillance systems, establishment of new processing centres, approval of new fisheries laws and institutional arrangements, development of aquaculture, along with capacity-building, tariff reform and specific interventions targeted at impoverished fisheries (and other) groupings. The best of the responses - and there tend to be rather more under this criteria than under the other analysed criteria[47] - provide detailed strategies/activities to be undertaken AND costings/monitoring indicators of the proposed interventions.

Table 5.1 Countries in which fisheries is highly significant in both trade and consumption and/or employment and poverty terms[48]



Trade/consumption only

Employment/rural poverty only

1. Latin America

Peru, Venezuela.

Ecuador, Panama.

2. Africa - PRSP states

Ghana, Madagascar, Senegal, Sierra Leone.

Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania.


3. Africa - Others


Angola, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Morocco.


4. Asia

Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam.

China, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Yemen.

5. Trans. Econ.

Estonia, Latvia, Russia

6. Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Belize, Cape Verde, Cuba, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Kiribati, Maldives, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome, Seychelles, Solomon Is., Tonga.

Trinidad and Tobago

Affirmative donor responses are dependent upon whether the EU or World Bank has - or is in the process of formulating - a Fisheries Agreement or support programme for the country concerned. Hence, while Chile - the world's sixth largest fishing nation in terms of landings in 2001 - scores poorly on this count, Argentina (world's twenty-fourth fishing nation) scores more highly given its ongoing Bank project on sustainable fisheries management (case of CAS), and EU scientific and technical cooperation agreement.

Process: In the main, links between sectoral stakeholders and the document formulation process extended to no more than consultation with stakeholders so as to allow the voicing of their concerns. There were few obvious connections between voiced stakeholder demands and the ensuing policy analysis and/or response - as evidenced in the Mozambican and Ivory Coast PRSPs, for example. In contrast, the more effective policy documents not only accorded stakeholders a bigger influence within the ongoing consultative process, but also pledged to create new institutional mechanisms intended to increase the community and/or sectoral voice in subsequent policy-making (c.f. the Guinea, Malawi, Maldives and Sri Lanka documents).

In the course of having analysed 281 national or donor support strategies[49], two issues particularly stand out - given their relative omission. First, and rather worryingly, any pretence towards promoting an engendered approach to fisheries mainstreaming is only apparent in the Ghanaian and Cambodian (and to a lesser extent the Lao PDR, Malian, Malawian and Cape Verdean) national policy documents, despite the marked demarcation of the sector in gender role terms. Further research could usefully be directed then to linking the critical role women play within the fisheries supply chain in many regions of the developing world to the fisheries development discourse which feeds into national and donor support strategies - so as to ensure the more effective promotion of pro-poor, pro-gender policies. Second, despite wide-ranging efforts by FAO to promote "a framework for national and international efforts to ensure the sustainable exploitation of aquatic living resources in harmony with the environment" via the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF, Preface) just one - the Eighth Malaysian Plan 2001/5 - makes explicit reference to the Code. It seems imperative then to formulate a series of guidelines which could enable the key elements of the Code to be integrated more effectively into macroeconomic planning, poverty alleviation strategies and donor support programmes.

To facilitate comparison, a four-point scale (0-3) was used to rank the analysed documents on the above four criteria - with an absence of fisheries references in the document meriting a zero mark, whilst identified "best practice" gained the maximum three. Table 5.2 highlights those countries adjudged to provide examples of "best practice - whether in the case of PRSPs or NDPs, or donor support programmes.

Table 5.2 Resume of Identified Best Practices


PRSPs/Nat. Dev. Plans

Bank CAS and EU CSPs.


Peru, Cameroon, Morocco, Estonia, Cambodia, Oman, Philippines, Fiji, Maldives.

Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, St. Lucia (all EU), Maldives (Bank and EU)




Peru, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Senegal, Morocco, Estonia, Slovenia, Cambodia, Philippines, Oman, Yemen, Fiji, Maldives

Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Seychelles (EU), Albania (World Bank)


Guinea, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Maldives.

In total, seventeen countries provided examples of best practice in their PRSPs or NDPs, primarily in terms of identifying fisheries-related issues and responses. In general, those that scored highly on the issues criteria also exhibited best practice on the response front. Only the Cameroon scored highly in tracing out causal links between the fisheries sector and poverty, with four countries successfully incorporating the sector into the policy-making process. The Maldives offer the most examples of best practice (three).

Ten donor support strategies provide instances of best practice, with the sector appearing to be more effectively mainstreamed into EU CSP (nine - from a sample of 116) than World Bank CAS (two - out of eighty) papers. While no country appears under more than one criteria, the Maldives is identified as an example of best practice vis-à-vis fisheries issues in both donor support documents.

Mapping this analysis across to the earlier scatter-gram plots indicating the relative importance of the sector in trade/consumption and poverty/employment terms, throws up a number of intriguing happenstances. First, although the fisheries sector is deemed to be highly significant in either trade/consumption and/or poverty/employment terms in forty-nine countries (sixteen SIDS, twelve Asian, fourteen African - eight PRSP and six non-PRSP, four Latin American and three transition states)[50], such significance only translates into effective sectoral mainstreaming[51] in twelve (44.4 percent of accessed) PRSPs/NDPs (Cambodia, Estonia, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea, the Maldives, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, the Yemen) and seven (17.5-18 percent of accessed) donor support programmes (Cambodia, Guinea, the Maldives, Senegal, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Venezuela)[52]. Five of these (Cambodia, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal and Sri Lanka) have produced PRSPs. Second, there is a slightly larger group of fifteen (55.6 percent) countries - Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama (Latin America), Chad, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania (Africa), India, Thailand and Viet Nam (Asia), and Cape Verde, Guyana, Mauritius and São Tome and Príncipe (SIDS) for whom the sector is significant, yet this is not properly reflected in contemporary PRSP/NDPs and/or donor support strategies (nine of these having produced PRSPs). Indeed, with the exception of Madagascar and Mozambique, analysis of the NDP of each of these countries registered an aggregate average individual score of unity or less. Reasons for such a disparity are not immediately clear. Third, there is another sub-set of four countries - Cameroon, Malawi and Mauritania (Africa), and Slovenia (Transition Economies) - who have managed to effectively mainstream fisheries into PRSPs/NDPs, despite the sector being relatively less/un important in trade/consumption and/or poverty/employment terms[53].

In conclusion, three possible avenues for future research into the more effective incorporation of the fisheries sector into national development and poverty reduction strategies, policies and programmes suggest themselves. First, a detailed analysis of the identified examples of best practice so as to produce a synthesis of "best" best practice (as it were) to inform future efforts intent on mainstreaming the sector into PRSPs/NDPs and donor support programmes. Second, a comparative study examining why certain countries with significant (in either trade/consumption and/or poverty/employment terms) fisheries sectors such as Venezuela, Mozambique, Thailand and Cape Verde have nevertheless, in effect, "missed the opportunity" to date to ensure more effective fisheries mainstreaming into national development discourses - in contrast to Peru, Ghana, Cambodia, and the Maldives (where significance has been translated into best practice). Third, a further comparative study identifying the local institutions and policy-making processes which have allowed countries where the sector is relatively unimportant in trade/consumption and/or poverty/employment terms such as Cameroon and Slovenia to "punch above their weight", and thereby "create opportunities" for greater sectoral inclusion in national agendas.

[45] In Sub-Saharan Africa the numbers rose 81.9 million to 322.9 million (up 34 percent); in the Middle East and North Africa by 3.1 million to 8.2 million (60.8 percent); in Latin America by 7.2 million to 55.6 million (14.9 percent); and in East Europe and Central Asia by 13.6 million to 19.9 million (215.9 percent). Successful diminutions were only apparent in East Asia (including China), where numbers fell 208.7 million to 261.4 million (down 44.4 percent), and in South Asia - down 34.4 million to 432.1 million (7.4 percent) (World Bank, 2003a).
[46] Comoros Islands policy, for example, is drawn from the Reconstruction and National Reconciliation Programme, St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the Annual Budget Address, and Brazil from a Pluri-annual Plan.
[47] This can probably be attributed to the fact that the majority of instances of best practice in this case are derived from countries which have produced PRSPs - documents which (generally) oblige governments to produce a detailed, and costed, policy implementation matrix.
[48] Fisheries is deemed as being "highly significant" in those countries whose trade/consumption and/or rural poverty/employment coordinates fall within the north-east quadrants of the respective regional scatter-grams (see Figures 3.3 to 3.14).
[49] Eighty-five PRSPs or principal national development strategy documents, eighty World Bank CAS and 116 EU CSPs were analysed.
[50] Trade/consumption and poverty/employment figures were unavailable for Oman.
[51] Effective sectoral mainstreaming is equated, in this instance, with recording best practice under one or more of the assessment criteria identified.
[52] The relevant PRSPs/NDPs were inaccessible for twenty-two (Angola, Bangladesh, Belize, China, Congo Republic, Cuba, Gabon, Grenada, Haiti, Indonesia, Kiribati, Korea, Latvia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Russia, the Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tunisia), and the donor support programmes for nine-ten (Cuba, Estonia, Fiji, Haiti, Mali, and Myanmar - both CAS and CSP; Latvia, Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago - case of CSP, and Kiribati, Mauritius, the Solomon Island and Tonga - case of CAS) mainly SIDS, of the forty-nine countries.
[53] In the case of donor support programmes, there are two instances (Gambia and St. Lucia) in the case of EU CSPs, and one (Albania) with regard to Bank CAS.

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