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South Africa Launches First-Time Fishing Alliance

SOUTH AFRICA - Fishing industry leaders and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have committed to improving the sustainability of South African fisheries in a first-time partnership that will ensure long-term marine conservation in the region.

WWF South Africa, together with four major fishing industry players, namely I&J, Oceana, Sea Harvest and Viking, have launched the Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA). This is the first alliance of its kind in the history of South African marine conservation. The Alliance is a bid to achieve the common goal of ensuring the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management in South Africa’s fisheries.

An EAF seeks to protect and enhance the health of marine ecosystems on which life and human benefits depend. The approach depends on balancing the diverse needs and values of both present and future generations.

“Fishing companies and environmental NGOs are often perceived to share little common ground. But in reality, responsible fishing companies that are committed to a long-term business view have a great deal in common with rational environmental NGOs that are committed to sustainable development goals,” said Dr Samantha Petersen, Manager of WWF’s Sustainable Fisheries Programme. “It is against this background that the concept of a Responsible Fisheries Alliance (RFA) was borne.”

The goals of the Alliance include promoting responsible fisheries practices, influencing policy on fishery governance, skills development to enable the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach and facilitating high quality ecological, socio-economic and governance related research to inform the implementation of an EAF.

The RFA was created on the basis of a strong ecological, market, operational and governance case agreed upon by both the fishing companies and WWF. The many years of good working relations between WWF and the key Alliance partners has already resulted in the development of a number of projects including the development of the responsible fisheries training programme, various bycatch assessments such as seabirds and vulnerable finfish amongst others.

Statements issued by the founding members of the Alliance regarding their involvement in this important step in South Africa’s marine conservation efforts, all highlighted the fact that long-term sustainability from both an ecological and business point of view was a priority.

“Sea Harvest has been in existence for over 45 years; and we intend to fish for many more – for our children’s children” said George Bezuidenhout, Managing Director of Sea Harvest. “We are proud to be a founding member of the RFA which will become one of the important interventions enhancing responsible and sustainable fishing.”

I&J Operations Director, Suleiman Salie said “I&J is committed to continue to be actively involved in promoting sustainable and responsible fishing practices for the long term. Collaborative initiatives such as those that will be championed by the Responsible Fisheries Alliance will undoubtedly enhance our efforts to achieve this goal.”

On behalf of Viking, Director, Tim Reddell, said “Viking is proud to be a founder member of the RFA; it highlights Viking’s commitment towards ensuring that future generations will also be able to experience the pleasures and biodiversity that the world’s oceans have to offer”.

Francois Kuttel, CEO Oceana Group Limited added that “environmental sustainability is one of the 3 pillars of the Oceana Groups corporate sustainability framework. Oceana is committed to a policy of fair dealing and integrity in the conduct of its business. The sustainable utilization of marine resources, and support for the responsible management of these resources is fundamental to this commitment”.

The launch of the RFA also received public support from Dr Valli Moosa, former Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and former President of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Dr Moosa said that the formation of this Alliance was significant because for the first time a forum has been created in which civil society and the private sector can effectively and strategically engage on the mutual objective of a sustainable fishing industry.

“The RFA will facilitate the support of the regulatory framework by sharing the responsibility of the wise management of our oceans and providing additional resources to furthering the World Summit for Sustainable Development Goal of implementing an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management by 2012”, said Dr Moosa.

the Fish Site Editor

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