Regional policies on sustainable fisheries in Northwest Africa

In an effort to promote sustainable exploitation of fish in North West Africa, CDI engaged in multi-actor processes, resulting in new policies at national and regional levels and the initiation of inclusive National Advisory Committees.

The challenge of migrating fish species

To protect the biodiversity of the coastal waters and to insure the sustainable exploitation of the natural resources, good management and agreements between coastal states are necessary.

The most extensive fish stock in the coastal waters of Northwest Africa consists of small pelagic fish species. These species swim in big schools over large distances and migrate across the coastal waters of different states. Large quantities of these species are fished by local small-scaled fishermen as well as by foreign fleets. Besides the importance for the food security of the people in the region, the pelagic species are an essential source of nourishment for other fish species, birds and sea mammals. Thus good regulation of the fishing of these species is crucial, As the pelagic fish species cross borders, a good coordination and harmonization of policy and management between countries is needed.

And the challenge of joint management

In 1985 the governments of seven countries in Northwest Africa (*) established the Sub-regional Fisheries Commission (CSRP, Commission Sous-Regional de Pêche). This commission aims to coordinate and harmonize all aspects of fishery management. In the context of the Dutch action programme for International Biodiversity and with the additional financial support of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR assisted the CSRP in their efforts to improve the cooperation and coordination in the management of the exploitation of small pelagic fish species in the coastal waters of Northwest Africa. Also Morocco is involved in the project because also in this country lots of sardines and mackerels are fished.

Policies at sub-regional level

A new programme coordinator was installed and coached in the office of CSRP in Dakar. CDI facilitated the multi actor process towards the development of policies at sub-regional and national level for the management of the small pelagic fish stocks. Policies that are mutually adjusted and take into account the activities of the other member states. These policies are based on the scientific advice of the FAO Working Group on Small Pelagic Fisheries in Northwest Africa on one hand, and on the traditional knowledge and the opinions of local small-scale fishermen and other stakeholders on the other hand.

The table-top on the table-legs

National advisory committees composed of managers, fisher's representatives and researchers have been initiated in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania. Representatives from these national committees and from Morocco will be the delegates to a sub-regional advisory committee that is to be set up soon. The creation of sub-regional fisheries management bodies is a slow and tedious process, but necessary to ensure coordinated management and sustainable exploitation of these shared resources.

(*) Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Mauritania and Sierra Leone