SADC Secretariat, Member States and partners, SIF and WWF take stock on progress in implementation of SDG 14

By Stop Illegal Fishing:23rd Nov, 2020: FISH-i Africa

Sustainable development goal 14 (SDG 14) concerning life below water is a priority focus for southern Africa where so many of our communities are reliant on fish, inland waters and oceans to provide food, employment and income.

 

On November 20, to celebrate World Fisheries Day 2020, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, in cooperation with partners Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) held a webinar entitled ‘Improving Regional Fisheries Governance and Sustainability Through Transparency’. Chaired by Saasa Pheeha, Acting Chief Director Marine Resource Management, in South Africa’s Department for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries the focus was on the tuna fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean. He stated, “COVID-19 is impacting on our resources and capacity for fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance – the need for regional cooperation to manage our precious resources is greater than ever.”

 

Presentations focussed on the industrial sector, small-scale fisheries and unregulated fisheries. Emphasising the inter connectivity of the ocean eco-system, the limited resources for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), and the increased challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for greater information sharing and improved regional cooperation to fight illegal fishing was reflected by all of the speakers.

 

Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, SADC Secretariat noted, “There is a shocking lack of transparency, which allows illegal operators to create as much confusion as possible around for instance vessel identities, escaping detection by changing vessel names or concealing ownership, flying different flags to avoid detection or removing ships from registries. These weaknesses allow or exacerbate illegal fishing to thrive in our region”

 

Sandy Davies presented key findings from Stop Illegal Fishing’s recent report Moving Tuna: Transhipment in the Western Indian Ocean. Tuna catches in the Western Indian Ocean are split almost equally between industrial and artisanal fishers. She said, “Only 13 percent of the WIO tuna catch is transhipped at sea and this is in fact the best monitored aspect of all fish transhipped in the region. If fish is being transhipped in port by foreign flagged vessels and is not destined for local processing, the likelihood is that it is not being monitored. With the catching sector dominated by Asian and European distant water fleets the need to re-balance the costs and obligations of flag, coastal and port States is evident.”

 

The challenges facing the small-scale factor were addressed by Umair Shaid, WWF-Mozambique. The importance of artisanal fisheries in the Indian Ocean is far greater than in many other tuna regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) around the world, with over 60% of the total Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) catch being caught by artisanal fishing gears and vessels. These catches appear to be increasing in recent years and this offers special challenges for the management of small-scale fisheries in the region. With small-scale encompassing vessels up to 24 metres in length the need to distinguish between those fishing commercially and those fishing for subsistence is needed. Hard hit by the COVID pandemic small-scale fishers have lost access to export markets and local markets, dependent on the tourist sector, have almost disappeared. The management of yellowfin tuna under the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission highlights the divide between the needs of coastal States of the Indian Ocean and those of distant water fishing nations. “Compliance to conservation and management measures by small scale fishers is critical to ensure that our regional fisheries are sustainably managed to provide benefits for all.” Umair Shahid, WWF.

 

Growing concerns for the status of unregulated fishing were presented by Dr Antonia Leroy, WWF EU. The report Unregulated Fishing on the High Seas of the Indian Ocean, published by WWF and Trygg Mat Tracking, demonstrates the exponential growth of unregulated fishing activity since 2015. An 830% increase in vessels targeting squid in the North West Indian Ocean highlights the risk of serious damage to the marine ecosystem, and to the food system that supports the global tuna industry. “The growth of unregulated fishing shows that now, more than ever we need to reinforce cooperation between regional fisheries management organisations, regional and international organisations.”

 

The value of developing the SADC Regional MCS Coordination Centre was reiterated throughout the discussion. Sandy Davies commented, “Regional initiatives like the SADC MCSCC and the Indian Ocean Commission initiatives can really support information sharing, cross checking of information and the adoption of good and standardised procedures. They are also really helpful to remove the bias, to balance the regional inequalities of capacity between different States.”

 

Concluding the webinar, Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo commented, “On World Fisheries Day we reflect on the importance of fisheries in the SADC region – providing food, nutrition and livelihoods. We must end illegal fishing and protect our fisheries. The SADC Regional MCS Coordination Centre will support national, regional and international efforts to end illegal fishing. We thank our member States and our partners for the joint effort that will bring real change to the SADC region.”

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The Issues

One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Our Approach

Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.

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Our Initiatives

Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

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