The 16 and 17 of September saw some 150 delegates from 14 different countries descend upon Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, brought together by the LDAC to discuss the challenges and opportunities provided by the ‘external dimension’ of the newly reformed CFP.
Viewing the policy as a potential ‘driver for positive change’, delegates and speakers debated how the external dimension may enhance collaboration between EU and African countries.
The event featured dynamic panel discussions around topics such as fisheries investments in third countries and the fight against IUU fishing, and offered industry, NGOs and policy makers the chance to share perspectives on how sound fisheries management can be achieved outside EU waters, while enhancing development of African economies and communities.
Stefaan Depypere, Director of International Affairs and Markets at DG MARE, and current Chair of ICCAT, commented: "This is a unique forum where you hear everything from different angles – a particular issue may be commented on by people with opposing views, and from the confrontation of these views you have a good synthesis of what really matters to the various parties. This is essential for us to know how to balance our intervention, [and] how to steer the policy, which is very useful."
With a view to feeding directly into policy, at the conclusion of two days of in-depth discussion LDAC steering group members worked collaboratively with delegates to pull together a list of concrete recommendations which can be downloaded here: http://ldac.chil.me/LDAC-DCFPCONFERENCE2015
These recommendations will form the backbone of LDAC’s work in advocating for an effective and meaningful implementation of the CFP external dimension, which will improve the lives of coastal communities in Africa, as well as offering opportunities to European economic interests in the region.
The recommendations are broken into two key themes:
1) Harmonisation of the conditions of access for foreign fleets to African waters to fish tuna, small pelagic and demersal species, with a view to establishing favourable conditions for fishermen operating responsibly and sustainably.
2) Improving scientific knowledge, and quality of data, and promoting the international governance of maritime fishing.
The detailed recommendation points are made under over-arching general points of agreement – including that the essence of the partnership between African countries and the EU should be the joint promotion of sustainable environmental, social and economic development based on transparency and the participation of non-governmental stakeholders, especially the professionals who depend on fishing for their livelihood.
Alexandre Rodriguez, Executive Secretary of the LDAC, concluded: "The aim of this event was to bring together representatives from the whole spectrum of European and African fisheries stakeholders: from big fishing operators to small fishing communities, women’s networks, and environmental and development NGOs. We believe that we have achieved this goal and we were proud to see so many delegates contributing to the discussions and engaging enthusiastically in constructive dialogue with policy makers. This collaboration strengthens the value of the recommendations we have produced as and EU advisory body. Transparency between stakeholders is essential to inform policy decisions and take effective, positive, and collaborative steps to improve the management and understanding of fisheries in Africa."