The memorandum of understanding (MoU) will allow the two organizations to work together on standards that will provide an Africa-wide framework for producers, distributors and sellers to ensure safety and quality at all stages of the value chain, from catch to the plate.
Focus will be given to the sustainability of fisheries, hygiene and storage requirements as well as traceability aspects.
The end goal is a continent-wide alignment of standards and certification schemes that will boost the the market for fish while also contributing to the commitments for a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) made at the January 2015 African Union Heads of State meeting. The two organizations hope that this expansion of trade will most benefit small and medium scale enterprises.
Initial phases of the partnership will focus on a mapping of certification schemes and standards that are applied in Africa. A proposal on how to better harmonize the use of standards across the continent will emerge and a mapping phase will also provide a gap analysis and identification of new standards needed. Experts say a focus on fisheries sustainability is key to opening up global markets with few exports being made from the continent without compliance to standards in this field.
Stephen Hall, Director General, WorldFish: “Increased efficiency in the value chain will reduce wastage, boost trade and confidence in the region’s fish trade. Given the cross border nature of the trade, it is important that we achieve a level of alignment. This agreement will enhance the fisheries sector and improve livelihoods for the 12 million Africans that rely on the business.”
Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, ARSO: "'Less waste – better results' is the theme of this year’s World Standards Day and “the role of standards in promoting sustainable agriculture and food security on Africa” is the theme of this year’s African Day of Standardisation and so this partnership could not be more pertinent in 2015. Fish are a vital source of food and nutrition security in Africa and standards can help to create a much more efficient trade environment, bringing more fish sustainably to the plates of more Africans.”
The MoU was developed as part of the FishTrade for a Better Future program. This program aims to improve food security and reduce poverty through intra-regional fish trade in sub-Saharan Africa.
ARSO and WorldFish believe that greater implementation and alignment of standards will strengthen the trade capacities of private sector enterprises. This will be a particular benefit for women fish processors, women traders and all aquaculture producers.
FishTrade for a Better Future is funded by the European Union and led by WorldFish, in partnership with the African Union Inter-Africa Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). Regional economic communities (RECs), regional fisheries bodies (RFBs) and national governments in Africa also collaborate in the implementation of FishTrade by promoting intra-regional trade and providing an enabling environment to make it happen.