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Time to invest in Africa’s fishery for potential economic growth

Time to invest in Africa’s fishery for potential economic growth

Senior Fisheries Officer of the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Dr. Mohamed Seisay, has called on governments in Africa to invest in the fisheries sector to stimulate growth and economic diversification in the continent.

According to Dr. Seisay, potentials in the fisheries sector is very huge and infrastructural development by governments is highly needed so as to enable the sector attract private investment and discourage offshore trans-shipment that is depriving government and communities of the much needed revenue and undermining the management of the sector.

“The fisheries sector has a huge economic potential that can transform countries in the continent if only they are properly regulated and managed,” Sesay said, adding that creating an enabling environment and supporting coastal communities with incentives, storage facilities and ensuring that communities engage in sustainable fishing practices will ensure growth in the sector and lift communities out of poverty.

“Coming from a Coastal community in Sierra Leone I know fishing is about livelihood; families depend on it as well as communities, which is why our governments must invest in infrastructure to attract private sector investment,” Seisay suggested.

Dr. Seisay explained that the AU-IBAR has developed policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture (endorsed by African leaders in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2013) which contain best practices and address the challenges of good governance, coordination and poor practices.

“There is the need for member countries to commit to reforming their fisheries sectors by taking into account the full range of benefits in developing fisheries policy including food and nutrition security, welfare and economic development,” he noted.

Dr. Seisay was one of the facilitators at a workshop on sustainable fisheries in Africa at Elmina, Ghana from February 29 to March 4 2016. The workshop, which attracted over 100 journalists from 40 African Countries, was organized by the World Bank Group, USAID, European Union and the AU-IBAR, among others. He challenged the journalists to engage their government on the policy document so as to ensure its full implementation.

“You have been capacitated with enough resource materials; use them and ask the right questions on the challenges and opportunities. You have a responsibility as journalists,” he urged.

Meanwhile, the workshop established a network of journalists for sustainable fisheries in Africa following four days of intense interactive deliberations, visits to fishing communities in Ghana and experience sharing on best practices and how to sustain the continent’s fisheries sector.

The objective of the African Journalists for Sustainable Fisheries Workshop is to assist African journalists to be able to produce fact-based reporting on fisheries issues with an expectation that such accurate reporting will build increased awareness while producing a conducive environment for reform and help secure a sustainable future for fisheries resources.

According to a report from the World Bank, the marine fish stocks in the waters of Africa are a cornerstone of food and nutritional security, livelihoods, social safety nets and jobs. About 1.5 million tons of fish are legally captured in West African wars each year, with an estimated wholesale value of $ 2.5 billion. However, this generates far lower returns than would be expected because of overexploitation, poor management, and illegal fishing.

The World Bank estimates that an additional $300 million in annual value-added could be created in West Africa with better governance and management of the fisheries as well as local greater investment.

Reporting by Amadu Lamrana Bah & Ahmed Sahid Nasralla

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