by Mialy Andriamahefazafy, Environmental Policy Specialist, Madagascar
For the last two years I have attended the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Private Sector consultative meetings organised by WWF East Africa. The session gathers NGOs, fishery associations and private operators involved in fisheries, in particular tuna fisheries. In 2011, the aim of the meeting was to share experiences and lessons learnt amongst participants, and one of the recommendations was to set up a platform for CSOs and private sector representatives that are working in the sustainable tuna fishery industry.
Blue Ventures was assigned to lead the task force to develop this platform. This year’s meeting was held in Mombasa, Kenya over two intense days. There were CSOs and private sector actors from Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros and South Africa. As usual, I was very glad to share Blue Ventures’ work in sustainable fisheries, especially regarding tuna fishery policy. Moreover, it was also a great opportunity to learn about the challenges other Western Indian Ocean (WIO) countries face in regards with their fisheries, and the initiatives that are undertaken by other CSOs like BV.
On the first day of the meeting I presented a summary of BV’s efforts in setting up an octopus fishery committee in the southwest of Madagascar. The aim in creating such a committee would be to gather stakeholders, local leaders, scientists and government officials, together in order to make united decisions about the management of the octopus fishery. This is also an important step in gaining Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the fishery, throughout Madagascar. The certification will mean that the octopus fishery is officially recognised as sustainable, and can then be sold at a higher price on international markets.
I also talked about our collaboration with the University of British Columbia on Madagascar’s fishery access agreements with the European Union. We also presented the preliminary findings of our analysis on other foreign fishery access agreements with Madagascar, the results of this showed that these agreements are not standardised and contain very weak obligations for certain countries.
On the second day, we presented the proposal for the creation of a platform for WIO CSOs/PS working with tuna fisheries. Over 20 actors from eight WIO countries agreed to set up the proposed tuna platform, of which Blue Ventures is now the vice chair. The aim is to promote dialogue and exchange about marine fishery issues between CSOs in the WIO region. It will also raise awareness of the need to engage pro-actively in fishery related issues within member countries. One of the main outputs of the platform is to strengthen and build a united voice for the WIO fisheries. The platform will allow CSOs to present joint statements to regional decisive entities such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and improve the involvement of CSOs in negotiation of fishery access agreements with large entities like the European Union.
With the creation of the platform there is now an opportunity for all East African and island states in the WIO to manage collaboratively this important shared marine resource.