Fisheries in Africa, the Caribbean plus Pacific – Immense opportunities, crucial challenges – Caribbean Life

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Viwanou Gnassounou is usually ACP assistant secretary general regarding Sustainable Economic Development & Industry

BRUXELLES, Sept. 13, 2017 (IPS) – Fish is definitely big business. The latest figures show that more than 165 million tonnes of fish are either taken or harvested in a year, with every person consuming more than 20kg of seafood annually, according to the world average. Approximately US$140 billion worth of fish is traded globally per annum, with millions of people relying on jobs in fishing and fish-farming, not to mention the sea food industry which involves processing, transport, retail and restaurants.

The fisheries and aquaculture sector can also be crucial to reducing poverty and getting rid of hunger. This is particularly true to get Least Developed Countries and Little Island Developing States, the vast majority of that are members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). ACP countries export as much as $US five. 3billion annually, with fisheries items making up half the total value of traded commodities in some countries.

Yet despite the undeniable importance, the sector faces severe challenges.

To begin with, nearly a third of the world’s assessed fish stocks are overfished, undercutting nature’s ability to give high produces in the long term. Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and overcapacity associated with fishing fleets are two from the biggest culprits, with IUU haemorrhaging billions in revenue for ACP states. In West Africa on your own, more than €one billion is lost each year due to IUU fishing while in the Western and Central Pacific Sea, IUU claims at least €470 mil annually, with actual lost revenue to Pacific Island countries about €140 million. Such losses harm countries’ efforts to cut poverty and sustain growth.

Simultaneously, ACP’s share of world fisheries trade remains minimal, although the regions are home to some from the world’s most iconic and successful maritime zones. Trade barriers impede competitiveness, as local producers struggle to attain the high product standards demanded by international markets. Poor facilities holds back economic gains, regardless of whether it involves lack of access to aquaculture creation zones, or lack of facilities in order to store or process fish to be able to add value to products. In the mean time, WTO rules, such as rules associated with origin, make it hard to take advantage of pauses given to vulnerable countries.

Environmental degradation is also a global challenge due to pollution, overfishing, and environment change. In the Caribbean for example , where more than 70 percent of the human population lives along the coast, nearly two thirds of coral reefs are threatened by human activities, whilst a third is threatened by seaside development and pollution from away from the coast sources. Climate change effects such as sea surface warming, ocean acidification, rising sea levels and severe weather events all lead to home destruction, diminished fish stocks and damaged ecosystems.

Such grave and crosscutting challenges can not be tackled by a country on its own.

Given the shared nature of fisheries resources and the similarity of the challenges, it is clear that solutions must come through regional and international cooperation. That is why government ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture in ACP countries are convening a major meeting within the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau from Sept. 18 to 21.

Ministers and senior authorities from across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will put their heads together to generate shared approaches to ensure the sustainable progress some of ACP’s most precious assets. The meeting follows momentous tips already taken an the global degree, such as the adoption of the 2030 Plan for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — including SDG 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources; the Paris Agreement upon Climate Change; and the FAO Slot State Measures Agreement.

In Nassau, ministers will take stock of the ACP Strategic Plan for Action for Fisheries and Aquaculture, set out in five concern axes: Effective Management for Eco friendly Fisheries; Promoting Optimal Returns from Fisheries Trade; Supporting Food Safety in ACP Countries; Developing Aquaculture; and Maintaining the Environment. The focus will be on bolstering high level shared commitments, sharing national or regional guidelines and seeking consensus on concern issues that need multilateral action.

Promising opportunities for the industry will be examined, seeking to unlock the potential for the ‘blue economy. ’ The blue economy promotes economic development, social inclusion, and better livelihoods, while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas. At the meeting, the ACP Secretariat will certainly launch the “Intra-ACP Blue Growth Initiative for Fisheries and Aquaculture, ” aimed at boosting private industry productivity and competitiveness of fisheries and aquaculture value chains in ACP countries and regions.

Fisheries and aquaculture are usually critical for poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. But a joint approach amongst the various countries — including active South-South cooperation — is needed to tackle shared challenges.

Updated five: 32 pm, September 19, 2017

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