Aquaculture for all

MSC Framework to Boost Sustainability of Fisheries in East Africa

Crustaceans Sustainability Politics +1 more

EAST AFRICA - The NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), with funding from the UKs Department for International Development (DFID), has committed $100,000 each to a rock lobster fishery in Kenya and to Tanzanias octopus fishery, for the implementation of Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIPs) that will align the fisheries reforms in the two countries with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Environmental Standard for Sustainable Fishing.

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NPCA will also provide funding to train Ministry staff in order to improve the technical capacity to conceptualise and implement necessary reforms.

Tanzanian octopus

The artisanal octopus fishery in Tanzania targets two main species, Octopus cyanea and O. vulgaris, both with significant economic value. The fishery experienced an increase in fishing pressure during the 1990s, due in part to the emergence of semi-industrial processing to service growing demand in Europe. A subsequent decline in the octopus stock has been linked to several on-going challenges, including overcapacity, overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat destruction.

In 2010 the Tanzanian octopus fishery, supported by WWF, underwent a pre-assessment against the MSC’s Environmental Standard for Sustainable Fishing. The information generated by the pre-assessment was used to develop the octopus FIPs in collaboration with key stakeholders, including the Fisheries Development Division and representatives of fishing communities. The FIP Action Plan identified several priority activities.

Through a consultative stakeholder Octopus FIP review process, the following three priority projects were identified:

  1. Reviewing available stock data and conduct an assessment on the current stock status;
  2. undertaking spatial and temporal evaluation of Tanzanian octopus catches;
  3. reviewing catch data and data capturing systems.

Collaboration between the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development of the United Republic of Tanzania, WWF Tanzania Country Office and the WWF-Coastal East Africa Initiative has led to the development of a Fishery Management Plan and Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) Action Plan, which lays out specific milestones and timelines for implementation.

Dr David Mathayo David (MP), Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development of the United Republic of Tanzania, commented, "The saying goes that ‘the future belongs to the organised’ and it is therefore very important to objectively strategize on how best to sustain our fisheries, and improve the octopus business environment throughout the value chain, from the fisher to the final consumer. The MSC pre-assessment helped us to identify where improvements were needed and we have built this into a FIP action plan. With the funding from NEPAD we can begin to roll this out."

Kenyan rock lobster

In Kenya, the rock lobster fishery comprises five species of tropical shallow-water spiny lobsters. The main target species is Panulirus ornatus, though P. homarus, P. longipes, P. versicolor and P. penicillatus are also caught.

The lobster fishery is artisanal; the harvesting methods employed by the fishers include hand-collection; gillnets, diving with spears, bars, and stakes; trammel nets and traps. Lobsters are consumed locally and are also exported, mainly to markets in Asia and Middle Eastern countries.

The fishery underwent a MSC pre-assessment in 2010 with the Kenyan State Department of Fisheries, in collaboration with key stakeholders, playing a major role in facilitating the process. WWF provided funding and logistical support for this initial phase. The information generated by the pre-assessment informed the development of lobster FIPs and a FIP Action Plan. Following a consultative process, the following five priority projects have been identified for initial support:

  1. Estimation of leakages and proposing solutions for estimating the total mortality in the fishery;
  2. refining stock assessment of the main target species, P. ornatus;
  3. conducting spatial and temporal assessments of lobster catches;
  4. development of a Lobster Fishery Management Plan;
  5. development of a biological research programme to obtain stock dynamics of lobster species.

Lucy Obungu, the Acting Director Marine and Coastal Fisheries of Kenya, remarked that "Kenya’s fisheries resources should be utilized to contribute to the economic development of the country.

However, cognizance should be taken of the fact that good fisheries management and environmental sustainability are pre-requisites to economic development. With the funding from NEPAD we hope to address the gaps that were identified following the MSC Pre-Assessment exercise in the year 2010 and hope that rock lobster fishery stakeholders will experience the long term benefits of good fishery management."

NEPAD’s involvement

Announcing the funding, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said: "In order to support the fisheries reforms in Africa the NEPAD Agency has spearheaded the process of developing a Pan-African Fisheries Policy Framework and Reform Strategy. The strategy was endorsed by technical experts from governments and partners during a Think Tank Event which was held in Douala, Cameroon in November 2012, and we are hoping that the policy and strategy will be approved by the second Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA), which will be held in 2014."

Dr Sloans Chimatiro, NEPAD’s Senior Fishery Advisor, added: "Kenya and Tanzania are amongst a number of African countries that have adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which seeks to improve agriculture productivity to enhance incomes and improve rural livelihoods. In some countries the fisheries sector is a key driver of agricultural growth and is a significant area of interest in NEPAD’s sustainable development strategy. We have identified the MSC as the world’s leading certification standard for wild-caught seafood and see it as a useful framework on which to benchmark the performance of governance reforms in the fisheries sector. We are delighted to be able to support these two fisheries towards addressing the issues that were identified in their Pre-Assessments."

Developing world fisheries not left out

Recognising NEPAD’s support, Martin Purves, the MSC’s southern Africa Programme Manager, added: "Small-scale and developing world fisheries should not be excluded from the environmental, market and food security benefits that are inherent in aligning with the MSC’s Standard. In many cases the challenges that hamper implementation of fisheries improvements are linked to financial constraints and relationships such as the one between the MSC and NEPAD are becoming increasingly important. We sincerely hope that both these fisheries are able to use this funding to good effect and that they will ultimately realise the benefits of the MSC program."

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