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Contribution of fisheries to national economies in West and Central Africa - SFLP

Policies to increase the wealth generated by small-scale fisheries









FAO. 2006. Contribution of fisheries to national economies in West and Central Africa – Policies to increase the wealth generated by small-scale fisheries. New Directions in Fisheries – A Series of Policy Briefs on Development Issues, No. 03. Rome. 12 pp.


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    Following the endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) by the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in June 2014, and in line with Paragraph 13.6 of the SSF Guidelines promoting the development of regional plans of action for their implementation, a regional consultation was held to discuss the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in West and Central Africa. The objective of the consultation was to raise awareness of the important role of the small-scale fisheries sector and how this is addressed in the African Union’s Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS), the ECOWAS regional fisheries and aquaculture policy (under development with support from the FIRST programme), and the SSF Guidelines. It also provided an opportunity to share experiences and identify actions needed to support and promote small-scale fisheries in the CECAF region.
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    The Programme for Integrated Development of Artisanal Fisheries in West Africa (IDAF) was initiated in 1983 with the financial assistance of DANIDA (The Kingdom of Denmark) and NORAD (Norway) to help some 20 coastal states from Mauritania to Angola which wish to develop and manage their artisanal fisheries through participatory and integrated approaches. Participatory and integrated approaches constitute a part of the Integrated Strategy for the Development of Small-Scale Fisheries adopted at th e World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development held in Rome in 1984. The adoption of the strategy reflected not just a recognition of the needs of the sector, but of its value in the production of protein food and the provision of employment. Hence, the implementation of the strategy, it was expected would help correct the neglect and misplaced policies by governments and international donor agencies towards the sector. These policies had characteristically favoured the industri al fisheries sector. Unfortunately attempts to industrialize fisheries did not positively contribute to the socio-economic development of the countries. To the contrary, the industrialization policy, which incidentally was not limited to the fisheries sector, resulted in weak growth in productivity, increased national debt, poor export performance, deteriorating social conditions and growing pressure on aquatic resources due to displacement of people from land. In addressing the particular needs of artisanal fisheries using the guiding principles of the Integrated Small-Scale Fisheries Development Strategy, the IDAF Programme works with and collaborates with a number of associated projects, research institutions and the Departments of Fisheries in the region.
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    The marine fisheries of West Africa, the area covered by the IDAF Programme, have for a long time been characterized by the co-existence of small-scale (artisanal) and large-scale (industrial) fisheries. Both fisheries tend to interact not only in a biological sense but also economically and physically. Sometimes these interactions degenerate into conflicts between the two sub-sectors, and occasionally conflicts occur within the artisanal fisheries independent of the industrial sub-sector. Conflicts in the exploitation of fisheries resources are due primarily to the common property characteristics of the resource and the phenomenon of free access/entry. However in some cases, national policies in respect to industrialisation and/or the issuance of fishing licences to foreign fleets have also contributed in increasing the number of conflicts. Recent developments, if not improvements, in small-scale fisheries (for example fishermen now have equipment with better autonomy) have made it possible for fishermen to fish in distant areas, fishing grounds that were not traditionally accessible to artisanal fishing crafts

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