APRIFAAS : Fisheries Institutions in conclave in Marrakech
By André NAOUSSI, special envoy in Marrakech (Morocco)
Some twenty experts will be discussing within three days on “regional cooperation strategy and partnerships for the development of the blue economy in Africa“. The theme of the fourth general assembly of the African Platform for Regional Institutions in Fisheries, Aquaculture and
Aquatic Systems (APRIFAAS).
No single state can find solutions to fisheries issues, which are always transboundary. The need for coordination and harmonisation of approaches, already expressed through regional institutions, took a decisive step forward in 2015, when the African Union created a platform in Abidjan for the institutions themselves: APRIFAAS. Its main missions are to facilitate information exchange, limit overlapping or obstructive actions, improve dialogue between all stakeholders, and strengthen Africa’s united voice in international bodies and in negotiations on fisheries and aquaculture issues.
The dynamics launched under the leadership of the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) were marked by the densification of membership, the planning of activities and the setting up of the first bodies (General Assembly and Executive Bureau). The momentum was slowed down by the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of the first phase of the Fisheries governance project (”FishGov 1”), a major support for APRIFAAS. Nevertheless, three General Assemblies were held, the last of which was in virtual mode in November 2021.
“Despite all their achievements, technologies cannot replace human contact”, said the representative of the Moroccan Ministry of Fisheries at the opening of the meeting, reiterating his country’s commitment to “support collective initiatives” for the sustainable management of the continent’s fisheries resources. Echoing him, the representative of the Director of AU-IBAR stressed that the blue economy in Africa “can only be managed effectively through an integrated approach”. The opportunities are enormous, said the delegate of the African Union Development Agency (AU-NEPAD), who sees a potential of 26 billion dollars of income from fishing and aquaculture on the continent by 2063.
Challenge of the new Board
This shows the immensity and complexity of the task entrusted to the new APRIFAAS Executive Bureau, which took office in Marrackech for the next two years. The Chair is entrusted to North Africa, through the Ministerial Conference for Fisheries Cooperation among African States bordering the Atlantic (ATLAFCO, which is co-organising this fourth GA with AU-IBAR). The other positions are held by bodies representing East Africa (IGAD, first vice-chair), Central Africa (COREP, second vice-chair), West Africa (CPCO, first rapporteur), and Southern Africa (COMESA, second rapporteur).
Mr. Abdelouahed Benabbou, Executive Secretary of ATLAFCO, assured the participants that the new team would be up to the challenge of “consolidating the achievements and boosting the collective momentum within APRIFAAS”.
The 2022-2023 action plan, which is currently being adopted, will provide a clearer picture.
“Harmonising and prioritising”
“Through APRIFAAS, we want, among other things, to facilitate the coordination of activities and the exchange of information between fisheries and aquaculture institutions, but also to eliminate duplication that hinders the effectiveness of actions. It is also necessary to continue to take steps to ensure that the continent speaks with a harmonised voice when it comes to international negotiations. Four technical groups are working to meet the challenges of APRIFAAS, with specific themes and results criteria: governance, artisanal fisheries, fish trade and promotion. It is essential to harmonise approaches and prioritise actions.
“Effective implementation of recommendations”
” ATLAFCO has been part of the dynamics of regional coordination of fisheries activities in Africa since 2015, first in its region of competence, and then extending its experience to the whole continent. We have already contributed to the elaboration of common projects, to the accompaniment of the creation of transnational structures, to the technical and financial support for the visibility of Africa in the fisheries forums at the continental and world level. We intend to capitalise on all these achievements in the service of APRIFAAS. We want to ensure the effective implementation of all the recommendations made during the various General Assemblies, make up for the delay in the execution of certain actions, and ensure quality leadership for the implementation of the fisheries reforms adopted at the level of the African Union.