Africa’s fisheries under threat; World Bank calls for proper management

Henry Kerali - New World Bank Country Director for Ghana.
Henry Kerali – World Bank Country Director for Ghana.

The World Bank has highlighted the need for proper management of fisheries as the economic loss from poor fisheries governance is estimated at $50 to $100 billion per annum.

Speaking at the opening of the African Journalists for Sustainable Fisheries Workshop in Accra, Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, stressed the need for policies to guide the fisheries industry to prevent further degradation and rehabilitate overexploited stocks.

The one-week workshop, organized by the World Bank, the AU and USAID, has convened over 100 journalists and communications professionals from 40 African countries.

“Over the past decades, Africa’s capture fisheries rapidly expanded without proper governance or management. In other words, there are too many boats and too many fishers chasing too few fish”, he said.

Henry Kerali said that though Africa accounts for a small share of global fisheries and aquaculture (about 5 per cent) and produces just above 9 million tons annually, population growth is expected to increase demand by 30 per cent by 2030, and the resulting gap in demand is likely to be filled by imports, which will cause a toll on foreign exchange.

The World Bank estimates that Africa can generate at least $2 to $10 billion each year by improving fisheries governance and management.

“With commitment to improve fisheries governance and management, and to develop sustainable aquaculture, Africa can make the sector a highly profitable economic enterprise, supporting and catalyzing the economic and social development of the continent”, he said.

Over 12 million people in Africa are engaged in the fisheries sector and fish constitutes an important source of protein intake.

However, climate change, increased pollution from coastal cities, and unsustainable fishing practices are threatening ocean fish stocks.

Early in February 2016, a global Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTi) was launched in Mauritania to improve transparency and sustainable management and to curb corruption and overfishing in countries that choose to implement the initiative.

The World Bank Country Director reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to fisheries transparency through programmes such as the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme, and expressed hope that with time, these efforts will benefit the hundreds of thousands of fishers across Africa who are most at risk as the impacts of climate change makes fishing more dangerous and fish stocks more difficult to find.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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