The sustainable management of marine fisheries resources is a pressing concern for countries seeking to ensure the long-term viability of these resources for the communities that depend on them.
In pursuit of practical solutions, delegates from nearly 20 countries, who are members of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF), have convened in Liberia at the 23rd Committee Session, jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) of Liberia at the Farmington Hotel from the 11 to 14 July 2023.
The 23rd Committee Session aims to address the pressing challenges faced in the region under the central theme of “Towards practical solutions to strengthen fisheries management and sustainability in CECAF region.”
Previous studies funded by the European Union (EU) through the CECAF-PESCAO project have highlighted the poor implementation of science-based fishery policy actions and inadequate uptake of CECAF recommendations at the country level. Additionally, the studies, supported by the EAF-Nansen Programme, have highlighted other challenges, such as inadequate quality of data used to assess the status of the fisheries resources in the area. Nevertheless, the available data already shows a concerning level of overexploitation, necessitating robust management measures at the national level.
Building on these findings and in response to the CECAF Scientific Sub-Committee’s (SSC) call for more ‘operational/actionable’ advice formulation, the upcoming discussions will center on enhancing management practices. These discussions will explore concrete mechanisms, collaboration, and cooperation among various stakeholders, including governments, regional organizations, development partners, and non-state actors. Through constructive dialogue and knowledge exchange, members aim to endorse the recommendations on the final day of the session.
“This 23rd Regular Session of the CECAF Committee is an important forum through which we, the Member Nations, Associate Members, the CECAF Secretariat as well as other distinguished stakeholders can exchange ideas and experiences on what has worked in the past and how to further achieve progress in our region in the future,” said the Honorable Emma Glasco, Director-General of the National Fisheries&Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
“The objectives of conservation and sustainable management of fisheries cannot be achieved without a good understanding of the dynamics of populations and ecosystems,” stressed Bintia Stephen Tchicaya, FAO Representative ad interim to Liberia. “Without such knowledge, it is impossible to successfully monitor and evaluate the actions of the various players in the fisheries sector, the progress made in the sustainable management of resources, and the threats to them.”
In Liberia, she reminded that FAO has been engaged in partnership strengthening and resource mobilization in collaboration with NaFAA, the Liberian Maritime Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other sectors to collaborate for better outcomes. Among the key activities include projects with financial support from the Japanese Government aimed at strengthening NaFAA’s capacity to implement the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA); capacitating women in small-scale fisheries (SSF) with good practices on fish handling, processing and conservation through capacity building and sustainable and renewal energy-powered infrastructure and equipment; supporting the development of national fisheries management plans; improving the safety in the sea of Liberian fisherfolks; and introducing fish production in agriculture fields.
The 23rd session of the CECAF presents with a crucial opportunity for regional and international collaboration in finding solutions to strengthen fisheries management and promote sustainable practices. The outcomes of this session will contribute significantly to the long-term preservation and responsible utilization of the valuable marine resources in the CECAF region.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.