Lusaka, 18th March 2022

As part of the implementation of E€OFISH Programme, eight regional organisations committed to making fisheries a lever for Africa’s development met on 17th and 18th March 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia. Kipyego Cheluget, Assistant Secretary General of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Programs, underlined the importance and relevance of this Steering Committee and went on to say:

“It is clear that the world’s marine resources have never been as threatened as they are now (…) We are therefore optimistic that the present Steering Committee meeting will guide E€OFISH Programme to create an understanding of the concept of sustainable development and its implications to the sustainable management of the inland and marine fisheries in Eastern Africa, Southern African and the Indian Ocean region.”

Convincing results for the fisheries sector expansion

This meeting highlighted the achievements of the past 12 months regarding collaboration in the field of fisheries between the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), COMESA, East African Community (EAC), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Through the programme, various frameworks for collaboration have been developed, such as the Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Ocean Commission and the Open University of Mauritius which addresses the lack of expertise in the fisheries sector. This cooperation made it possible to, among other things, provide the region with an undergraduate degree on Law, Blue Economy and Sustainable Fisheries Management, which now boasts a first class of 20 learners. Moreover, a system called Blue Economy Fisheries Satellite Account (BEFSA) has been put in place to make sure policy development and monitoring are evidence-based at national and regional levels. As regards the fight against illegal fishing, the procedures about the EUR 2 million grant to fund surveillance actions in the region have been finalised; the governance structure of initiatives has been reinforced; and two regional patrols were carried out.

Accommodating the fishing sector dynamics

The partners also emphasized the importance of tracking the last trends and developments of the fishing sector context, in order to meet the actual needs in this industry. Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission states, “Each country needs to get beyond the issues of overfishing or under-exploitation, illegal fishing or unsuitable policies, and broaden its perspective to take into account the human and natural parameters that not only affect the marine environment, but also exacerbate the risk of disasters. Therefore, the countries and communities that each of us represents today must adapt and innovate to meet the efficiency and accountability requirements in the sustainable management of fisheries resources”.

Promising prospects and high expectations

A call for greater commitment from partners was also made during this meeting to leverage the achievements of E€OFISH Programme. Milko Van Gool, Head of cooperation of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles recalled that “The Programme was cited as one of the EU commitments of “Our Ocean” Conference in 2018 and recently, at the Indo-Pacific Forum held in Paris, E€OFISH was yet again cited for its contribution to fighting illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean region.  Therefore, expectations are high on this programme.  Therefore, we need to deliver and show results.”