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Unlocking the potential of coastal pelagics fisheries in Sao Tome and Principe

FISH4ACP upgrading strategy for the coastal pelagics value chain

9 November 2022, Sao Tome – A stronger coastal pelagics value chain is key for food and nutrition security in the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, according to a ten-year upgrading strategy presented by FISH4ACP today to over 50 stakeholders and experts. It will also make the sector more profitable and promote responsible management to reverse declining catches.  

The strategy is the result of a sector-wide dialogue spearheaded by FISH4ACP. Its aim is to upgrade the coastal pelagics value chain over the next ten years in order to satisfy growing domestic demand and make the sector more profitable and environmentally sustainable. This would be achieved with a better-organized and trained workforce, improved equipment and more responsible fisheries management. 

São Tomé and Príncipe 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.  

A value chain analysis conducted earlier this year by FISH4ACP with value chain stakeholders showed that coastal pelagics fishing in Sao Tome and Principe provides jobs to more than 4 000 fishers and over 2 500 fishmongers. It also confirmed that the sector is largely artisanal as 97% of landings come from small-scale fishers.  

Similarly, the analysis showed the importance of coastal pelagics for the local population. 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 for many people, especially those with lower incomes.  

“FISH4ACP’s holistic approach to strengthening the coastal pelagic sector is in line with the agenda on sustainable development that the Europe Union supports,” said Davide Morucci, Programme Officer for the Delegation of the European Union to Gabon for São Tomé e Príncipe and ECCAS. He added: “This strategy contributes to food and nutrition security; it stimulates economic growth while lessening pressure on the environment.”  

Over the next two days, some 50 public and private sector stakeholders and experts will review the strategy and discuss activities that are most suitable to achieve its ambitious agenda.  

“By unlocking the potential of a sustainable coastal pelagic sector, FISH4ACP is supporting Sao Tome and Principe’s efforts to transform its aquatic food systems,” said Lionel Kinadjian​, acting FAO Representative for Sao Tome and Principe. He added: “FAO is happy to advance this blue transformation that contributes to the four betters at the heart of our efforts: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life.”   

Lionel Kinadjian explained that FISH4ACP would work towards strengthened cooperation among actors in the value chain and capacity building focused on responsible fishing practices and improved skills in handling techniques, quality control and marketing.  

Other key activities would include the improvement of the artisanal fleet, the cold chain and better stock assessment and management to safeguard aquatic resources for the benefit of communities that rely on them for their livelihoods and food security.