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Project aims to coordinate efforts to mitigate illegal fishing

Project aims to coordinate efforts to mitigate illegal fishing

SADC Atlantic Project officially launched

ANGOLA: After significant ground work and collaboration, the inception of the Southern African Community Development (SADC) Atlantic Project took place Luanda, Angola last month with the goal to support coordinated efforts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa to mitigate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and organised crime in the fisheries industry.

This initiative is one of many carried out by the SADC Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC). The project, which is funded by the Embassy of the United States (US) in Botswana, is an initiative of the MCSCC, situated in Maputo, Mozambique.

The project is primarily focused on implementing coordinated Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities related to fishing and has a specific focus on the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem which is shared by Angola, Namibia, and South Africa.

During the inception event, Carmen dos Santos, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources for the Republic of Angola, emphasised her government's commitment to curbing illegal fishing activities through the implementation of regional instruments for monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing activities.

She noted that the increasing demand for fish and fisheries products has created challenges related to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that impact not only coastal countries, but landlocked States as well.

She emphasised the need for SADC region to intensify monitoring and control measures, including vessel tracking, information exchange, enforcement of laws and regulations, harmonisation of MCS processes, implementation of stringent measures and intelligent systems to address illegal fishing.

Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, the Fisheries Technical Advisor at the SADC Secretariat, emphasised the importance of fostering regional cooperation and coordination among SADC Member States and commended the assistance provided by cooperating partners such as the American Government in enhancing national and regional capacities in managing fish and fisheries.

The US Embassy in Luanda demonstrated support to the initiative by donating body cameras which will help the officials to facilitate remote monitoring and inspections of fish on fishing vessels and related fisheries activities.

Providing training

In addition to the launch, training sessions were conducted in Luanda and Lobito for the MCS workforce, with a focus on carrying out risk assessments for fishing vessels. The sessions also included coaching, monitoring activities, and skills development to effectively utilise the newly acquired tools.

Moreover, the project will strengthen the capacity to analyse risks associated with fishing vessels, thereby enhancing the validation of risk assessment procedures.

Fisheries in the SADC region yield substantial economic benefits, including fish production of about 3,7 million tons of fish, with exports of fish and fishery products at about US$ 2.3 billion, accounting for 31% of Africa’s total exports of fish and fishery products in 2022. They also provide direct and indirect employment to about 3.5 million SADC citizens and contribute to the region's food and nutrition security.
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