FAO in Mozambique

Regional Fisheries Bodies in the Indian Ocean advocate Common Approach to Address Regional Challenges


30 June 2022, Maputo– The regional dimension is fundamental to international fisheries management policy. In this context, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO's) and Regional Fisheries Advisory Bodies (RFAB's), collectively referred to as Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFB's), are a broad set of organizations through which States cooperate to achieve issues related to the conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources.

International instruments such as the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) and the United Nations Agreement on Fish Stocks (UNFSA), which entered into force in 1995 and which is the main global treaty relevant to Organizations Fisheries Management Boards, provide the legal framework for regional cooperation.

The meeting held from 22 to 24 June 2022, is the first initiative to bring together regional fisheries management organizations to promote and establish effective regional and sub-regional cooperative frameworks between regional fisheries bodies (RFB's) with a view to developing concerted approaches on matters of common interest, including combating Illegal, Unreported and Unauthorized (IUU) fishing, on the one hand, and the joint definition of a regional coordination framework towards a concerted approach to addressing issues and challenges of common interest, on the other hand.

The "Regional Consultation on the Development of a Coordination Framework between Regional Fisheries Organizations in the Indian Ocean" meeting was convened by the FAO Division for Fisheries and Aquaculture in collaboration with the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), with technical assistance of FAO representation in Mozambique in close collaboration with the Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries of the Republic of Mozambique.

The welcoming remarks of the meeting were given by Mr. Hernani Coelho da Silva, the FAO Representative in Mozambique. In his speech, Mr. Hernani highlighted the importance of the fisheries sector at a global level in its contribution to fish for the population's consumption and the need of preservation of the oceans against the overexploitation and pollution. "We have just commemorated the World Oceans Day and we all were alerted to the exposure of our oceans to overexploitation and pollution which is compromising the oceans ecosystem and, in the end, our own existence". "It is therefore logical that FAO, has been for decades advocating for the sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources of the world's oceans, including fish stocks and associated biodiversity, as a priority. Oceans, plays indeed an important role on the equation of human existence from all the angles of our analysis, be it economic, environmental, geopolitical, social or cultural", said Hernani Coelho da Silva.

The official opening of the first meeting of Regional Consultation for the Development of a Coordination Platform between Regional Fisheries Organizations of the Indian Ocean was given by His Excellency Henriques Bongence, Deputy Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries of Mozambique. In his speech, Bongence said that a large part of the coastal population in Mozambique lives mainly from fishing, an activity that directly employs more than 400,000 people.

"The Fisheries Sector in Mozambique contributes around 2 to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with an annual production of around 450 thousand tons of diverse fish, from wild fishing and aquaculture, with the artisanal fishing represents 90% of this production. The sustainable management of fisheries resources is a priority for the Mozambique Government, hence the continuous strengthening of the political-legal and institutional framework to face the challenges imposed on the Sector. This fact resulted in the approval of several instruments, with the objective of ordering the use and exploitation of the sea, as well as specifically the fishing activity", said Bongence.

Bongence also highlighted the fruitful partnership with FAO and regional fisheries bodies, to which Mozambique is a part, namely the Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the African Development Community Australis (SADC). "With the establishment of the Coordination of Fisheries Monitoring Center, Control and Inspection, Mozambique has benefited from support for the strengthening of internal capacity for the management of fisheries resources, in addition to constituting a coordination platform with a view to achieving the Goals of Sustainable Development of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, particularly the fight against poverty and the eradication of hunger and the sustainable use of oceans and inland waters", he concluded.

FAO recognizes, as a priority, the sustainable use and conservation of living marine resources in the world's oceans, including fish stocks and associated biodiversity. About 10% of the world's population depends directly on fisheries for their livelihood and, for many developing countries, fish is one of the most traded food products. Globally, fish provides more than 3.3 billion people with 20% of their average per capita intake of animal protein.

Attended the meeting, namely, the Bay of Bengal Program-Intergovernmental Organization (BOBP-IGO), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT); Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Bureau (IOTC); Regional Fisheries Commission (RECOFI); International Whaling Commission (IWC), Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA); Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union Inter-African Animal Resources Office (AU-IBAR) and the Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC).

At the end of the three-day meeting, the participants identified and agreed on several relevant technical areas of intervention where coordination and collaboration should be concentrated and developed between regional fisheries bodies in the Indian Ocean.