Africa Progress Panel says treaty to fight illegal fishing is victory for Africa

FisheriesThe Africa Progress Panel, chaired by former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says the recently signed treaty to fight illegal fishing around the world is a victory for Africa.

In a press release copied to Monday July 11, 2016, the Panel said the agreement, which is the world’s first binding agreement to protect global fisheries from illegal fishing promises to give a significant boost to Africa’s 35 coastal nations.

The Panel welcoming the coming into force of the Port State Measures Agreement, which aims to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, said foreign fishing vessels have long robbed Africa’s rich coastal waters with impunity.

“The agreement will make it much harder for them to continue their illegal activity, by blocking their access to ports,” it said.

Citing the lose to African countries, it pointed out that IUU fishing costs African countries substantial amounts of money every year, adding that West Africa alone loses $1.3 billion annually.

“Commercial trawlers that operate under flags of convenience, and unload in ports that do not record their catch, are engaging in organised theft disguised as commerce,” Kofi Annan, was quoted as saying in the release.

The Africa Progress Panel then urged all countries to ratify and implement the agreement, whose entry into force will be celebrated at a high-level ceremony on July 11, in Rome at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The FAO brokered the adoption of the treaty in 2009, the release noted.

A recently published report found that western African countries can create more than 300,000 jobs if they invest in the fisheries sector.

The report by the Overseas Development Institute and porCausa, the Spanish investigative journalism organisation, argues that a crack down on illegal fishing by foreign commercial fleets operating in western Africa and investment in the region’s maritime industry could lead to major benefits, including more than 300,000 new jobs.

The report, titled; ‘Western Africa’s missing fish’, says weak regulation among governments in the region and a lack of deterrence measures, including coastguard patrols, mean that efforts to curb the plunder of the region’s rich maritime resources are likely to fail.

The report found among other things that there are difficulties of preventing illegally-caught fish entering the supply chain – in part due to the industry practise of ship-to-ship transfers of catches.

The Port State Measures Agreement is therefore timely and good for Africa if ratified and implemented.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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