The African Confederation of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organizations (CAOPA), and partners including; Federation of Artisanal Fishermen at the Indian Oceans (FPAOI), Fishermen and Boat Owners Association Seychelles (FBOA) in partnership with the Professional Fisheries Organizations of the Seychelles (PFS) have begun a three day World Fisheries Day Celebration in Mahe, Seychelles.
The three days celebration comprise of activities including; conferences, debates and workshops that are aimed to address current challenges and prospects of African artisanal fishery communities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the celebration at Seychelles’ Maritime Training Academy, Seychelles Fisheries and Agriculture Minister, Mrs. Pamela Charlette said that experiences shared during the course of the three days celebration would be a good start for fishery communities to work collectively to the contribution(s) of sea health, specifically its eco-system and quality of life it supports within and out.
The Minister called on Africa’s artisanal fishery communities to consider the importance of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines and urged artisanal communities to ensure that fishery resources are harvested sustainably.
“I will like to employ you to consider the importance of the FAO voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small scale fishery in the context of food security and poverty eradication as the two parts driving sustainable small scale and artisanal fishery.”
“As association of fishers in your respective countries and communities, you have an imperative role to play in ensuring that fishery resources are harvest sustainably. This important role is not only for the policy makers or law makers, we are all custodian of our marine resources and we have the responsibility to ensure its legacy,” She explained.
The FAO voluntary guidelines are intended to support the visibility, recognition and enhancement of the already important role of small-scale fisheries and to contribute to global and national efforts towards the eradication of hunger and poverty.
Furthermore, she urged fishery communities to collaboratively combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities (IUU) on the African Continent as she considered (IUU) practices threats to economy, employment in this sector.
Minister Charlette urged small scale and artisanal fishing communities to rethink ways of exploring oceanic resources and appealed for collective effort for the creation of better market for fishers.
She thanked (CAOPA) along with its partners for the ongoing activities of the celebration and said that she is delight about topics chosen for discussion.
“I am very pleased with the activities planned for the three days celebration and the topic chosen by the association to discussed, such as; the blue growth and artisanal fishing, access rights to resources for artisanal fisheries, change and practices and mentalities, and the need to look at the holistic approach to policy reform affecting our communities among others,” she said.
As for his part, the President of the African Confederation of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organizations (CAOPA), Gaoussou Gueye, called upon African governments to promote sustainable artisanal fishery and described the sector “a contributor” to the continent economy and fight against food security among others.
“Today we are about hundred millions of men and women in the African fishery sector; we do contribute more than sixty percent in the production of the African fishery. More than two hundred millions African depend on fishery as the means of protein and vitamin; for this reason, it is important that our governments take all the measures of our contributions to food security, employment, culture, and various activities in our country.
“CAOPA is in [negotiation]with our first partner [governments]to promote a better sustainable artisanal fishery, to protect and defend the human rights and women rights in the sector,” said Gueye.
He disclosed that artisanal communities on the continent are undergoing numerous challenges with regards to illegal forces, industrial activities, and strong competition between artisanal fishery communities and political, economic influencer.
However, Gueye, described the FAO voluntary guidelines on small scale fisheries as a compass for the implementation of the policy reform proposed by the African Union (AU) to each African state. He said if governments understand how to perform the implementation of such reform, the professional organizations of artisanal fishery on the continent has key role to play in driving the continent economy forward.
By George Harris