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Round-up of the 8th IGCC/GCLME Steering Committee- Guinea Current LME project extension approved

Round-up of the 8th IGCC/GCLME Steering Committee- Guinea Current LME project extension approved

ACCRA, 20 May – The IGCC/Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem received approval from its Steering Committee Thursday for a final “no-cost extension” of Strategic Action Plan Development (SAP) phase of the project that serves 16 countries in coastal West and Central Africa. 

The approval came at the end of the Committee’s 8th meeting held in Accra, Ghana. Extension was sought to complete tasks required to transform of the Interim Guinea Current Commission (IGCC), which oversees the project, to a permanent Guinea Current Commission and develop the SAP Implementation Project which will provide support for the transition to a country owned, independent and permanent Commission for the management of the marine and coastal resources of the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem. With the extension, the SAP Development project will close operationally by 30 April 2012. 

One of the requirements to complete the transition of the Interim Commission to a permanent commission is implementation of the GCLME Strategic Action Plan (SAP), a negotiated document that describes policy, legal and institutional actions and investments to attend to regional priority problems on the marine environment. Implementation of the SAP requires completion of a project identification form (PIF), which the meeting urged the United Nations agencies executing and implementing the GCLME project to complete in draft by September 1, 2011 and finalize for submission to GEF in the first quarter of 2012. In this respect, the Committee urged countries to begin exploring and developing co-financing opportunities to support the PIF and report to the IGCC Executive Secretariat. 

“If there is agreement among countries on a new road ahead with commitments to ecosystem-based approaches to solve the identified priority trans-boundary concerns and a legal institution that makes those commitments happen, then I am optimistic we can provide GEF funding for your SAP implementation project,” Alfred Duda, senior adviser International Waters for the Global Environment Fund, said at the Committee meeting. 

Regarding the establishment of the Guinea Current Commission, the Steering Committee asked IGCC member states to consult nationally by 1 September on two options and documents proposed by the UN support agencies and make recommendations to the IGCC Ministerial Committee for its realization. The proposed options are to establish the permanent Commission as an independent body under a separate international legal agreement; or set it up as a permanent independent body linked to the Abidjan Convention by a protocol. Both options will be based on the ecosystem approach to the management on the marine and coastal resources and its membership limited to the 16 Guinea Current Commission Countries. 

Delegates at the IGCC/GCLME 8th Steering Committee meeting in Accra, Ghana Photo Credit: Yao Modenou, IGCC/GCLME

Formalization of the African Caucus of Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) Institutions 

On 16 May, a day before this 8th Steering Committee meeting, a Caucus of African LMEs was formalized to provide a platform for closer cooperation and for the discussion of common concerns, and how these could be redressed.

AFRICAN Large Marine Ecosystems

    • Agulhas LME
    • Benguela Current LME
    • Canary Current LME
    • Guinea Current LME
    • Somali Current LME

The meeting’s chair was designated to preside over the Caucus for one year to ensure institutional stability, after which the chairmanship will rotate among LMEs. The meeting also recommended that a briefing be given to the Steering Committee members on the lessons learnt from the Benguela Current Commission convention development. 

“The BCC is the first in the world to be at a point of attaining a commission status. This is historical and should be recognized,” Hashali Hamukuaya, executive secretary of BCC, said during his presentation on the Caucus at the Steering Committee meeting. 

LMEs are to share their annual work plans, a measure that would allow them to identify activities which could be jointly undertaken, especially in capacity-building, thus promoting synergies. They are also to share experiences and best practices; for example, BCC with SAP implementation and the IGCC with the development of NAPs. In this respect, the IGCC and BCC are, together, helping Angola to develop its National Action Plan for priority investment projects on ecosystem development. 

In addition, the meeting recommended that the Caucus seize the opportunities offered by science centres worldwide, such as NOAA, to obtain remote sensing data required for the management of LMEs. The meeting also agreed to form a working group to prepare a document expressing the benefits that the EAF-Nansen project brings to Africa and why it must be extended. 

There were also strong reasons given for the need to solicit research vessels to serve African LMEs. The BCC agreed to take the lead in the working group that will look into this, to which all other LMEs are to designate members by 27 May. The report of the working group will be presented to the Caucus, in July 2011.

Participating Bodies at the Caucus Meeting

    • The BCC
    • The BCC/BCLME SAP implementation project in Namibia
    • CCLME
    • The FAO EAF-Nansen Project
    • The IGCC/GCLME
    • US-NOAA 
    • UNIDO

Other decisions and recommendations are that the Caucus should be active in preparation for the COP 17 in Durban in conjunction with others partners to ensure that issues of fisheries and aquaculture are raised at the Conference; that they should start discussions now on positive issues or messages that could be included in the agenda of the Rio+20 meeting in 2012; and that LMEs should provide brief progress reports to continental bodies such as the African Union, the continent’s foremost political body, and Nepad, a technical body of the Union.

By Olu Sarr, Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem’s Region Coordination Unit

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