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Making coastal pelagics fishing in Sao Tome and Principe’s more productive and sustainable

FISH4ACP analysis can show the way to stronger, more inclusive and environmentally friendly value chain

11 May 2022, Sao Tome – A stronger coastal pelagics sector will increase employment and bring more healthy food on the table in Sao Tome and Principe, according to an analysis presented today to over 50 stakeholders and experts, discussing ways to improve the coastal pelagics value chain to lessen the burden on the environment and to ensure that nobody is left behind.  

“Coastal pelagics are key to our fisheries sector and they are in strong demand on the local market,” said Aida d’Almeida, Director of Fisheries, at a meeting in São Tomé today, where the results of an analysis of the coastal pelagics value chain was presented. “Making the sector stronger is good for our country, but we need to ensure that women and youth get a fair share and reduce environmental impact.”

According to the value chain analysis, coastal pelagics fishing in Sao Tome and Principe is largely artisanal: 97% of the landings come from small-scale fishers and the remaining 3% from a semi-industrial fleet. It provides jobs to more than 4 000 fishers and over 2 500 fishmongers. 80% of catches are sold fresh on the local market, where species like flying fish, blue runner, little tunny and frigate tuna are a source of affordable and safe animal protein.

Sao Tome and Principe is one of the twelve countries where FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), works to strengthen fish value chains.

“Making the coastal pelagics sector more productive and sustainable fits in the global agenda on sustainable development that Europe supports,” said Davide Morucci of the EU Delegation in Sao Tome and Principe on behalf of the Ambassador Rosário Bento Pais. He added: “We are inspired by FISH4ACP’s holistic value chain approach, as it allows stimulating economic growth while sharing benefits equitably and the environmental footprint.”

Over the next two days, some 50 stakeholders and experts of the coastal pelagics sector in Sao Tome and Principe, both from the private and public sector, will review the outcomes of the value chain analysis and discuss ways to improve the sector - setting the agenda for FISH4ACP’s activities for the years to come.  

“FISH4ACP shows FAO’s support of Sao Tome and Principe’s efforts to transform aquatic food systems into drivers of employment, social development and environmental recovery,” said Lionel Kinadjian, officer in charge of fisheries and aquaculture from FAO Sub-regional Office for Central Africa. He added: “We are happy to work on a blue transformation of the coastal pelagics sector and tackle some of the major challenges to unlock its full potential.”

Lionel Kinadjian said that FISH4ACP’s efforts could focus on post-harvest infrastructure, processing techniques and quality control standards to create income opportunities for the island’s growing population. He added that FISH4ACP would work to strengthen cooperation in the value chain, for example to improve working conditions especially for women, and contribute to improve stock assessment and management to safeguard aquatic resources for the benefit of communities that rely on them for their livelihoods and food security.