Madagascar resumes consultations on national strategy to implement PSMA and related instruments

By Stop Illegal Fishing:10th Dec, 2022:

A workshop on the resumed formulation of a national strategy and action plan to gradually implement the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (PSMA), complementary international instruments and regional mechanisms to combat IUU fishing was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 5-7 December 2022. This workshop, which was convened by the FAO, in partnership with the Republic of Madagascar through its Ministry for the Blue Economy with the technical facilitation of Stop Illegal Fishing, was aimed at restarting and updating the results of an initial consultative meeting that took place in 2018. This new workshop was the first activity under the German-funded “Port State Support Project”, with the goal to update the national strategy and action plan, identify capacity needs and provide a basis for further project activities over the next four years.

Over 40 participants from agencies playing a potential role in addressing IUU fishing in Madagascar gathered in Antananarivo in December 2022 to update the draft of the national strategy initiated in 2018. To ensure adequate inclusiveness of the consultative process, participants included representatives of institutions and organisations that are relevant for the effective implementation of the PSMA and measures aimed at combatting IUU fishing in Madagascar. Geographical representativeness, too, was considered through the representation of the main ports in Madagascar: Nosy Be, Toliara, Diego, Fort-Dauphin, Mananjary, Morondava, Toamasina and Mahajanga.

The workshop was opened by Honourable Dr Paubert T. Mahatante, Minister of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, who played an active part in reviving the discussions on the actions to be undertaken as part of Madagascar’s blue economy vision. In his welcome remarks, the Minister expressed Madagascar’s willingness to fight IUU fishing “for the good of the country, for the good of the people, for the good of SADC, for the good of the Indian Ocean region and for the good of the rest of the world”. Also speaking at the opening ceremony, H.E. Dr Mbuli Charles Boliko, FAO Representative in Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius, welcomed the commitment of Madagascar to implement instruments that can help overcome challenges linked to IUU fishing, including the PSMA.

Whilst an initial strategy was elaborated in 2018, significant changes in Madagascar’s environment as well as at the global level made it necessary to reconvene all stakeholders and resume consultations to ensure that actions and recommendations previously identified would still be relevant to today’s context. The objective was also to broaden the strategy to address all risks related to IUU fishing in a holistic way, not limiting to Madagascar’s responsibilities as a port State, but also as a coastal, flag and market state. This includes issues of vessel safety and working conditions of fishers, which are risks associated to IUU fishing. Broadening the scope of Madagascar’s strategy in combatting IUU fishing therefore means defining actions that go beyond the FAO 2009 Port State Measures Agreement, which was the original focus of the 2018 strategy, and addressing issues related to small-scale fishing activities, so far excluded from the action plan.

This multi-stakeholder workshop highlighted gaps that still need to be addressed and formulated concrete recommendations on aspects related to existing policies and legislation; institutional arrangements and regional mechanism & cooperation; and MCS systems and operations. The resumed consultation underlined that there is still a need to amend national legislation to align it to existing instruments to which Madagascar is a party, including the PSMA, and to provide an enabling environment for effective interagency and regional cooperation as well as MCS operations. Cooperation and information-sharing, at the national, regional and global level have been highlighted as being critical to support PSMA implementation and measures aimed at tackling IUU fishing. Whilst bilateral cooperation channels are already in place, these mechanisms are yet to be formalised.

Concrete actions were formulated as key drivers of the updated strategy. However, it was recognised that to reach their goal, these measures must be underpinned by a functioning and well-maintained infrastructure, including access to internet and resources for day-to-day operations, such as fuel. Addressing the weaknesses of the infrastructure is therefore be a priority for Madagascar.

After the update of the strategy, the next step will be to establish an interagency cooperation mechanism. This will be the goal of the next technical workshop that will take place in 2023 in Madagascar, facilitated by SIF under the German-funded Port State Support Project, which will last until 2026.

 

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