Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau admitted that the growing technical hitches in fisheries’ management have contributed to making it an issue of international concern.
There is still a mismatch between the capacity to fish and the implicit sustainable potential of important stocks.
Biological science has not been able to consistently predict future exploitable quantities. Thus, in some instances, quotas have often been set above those recommended by biological science.
Esau said they know that in some areas, the over-capacity in fleets prevails with few alternatives to employment, particularly in coastal rural areas, which are highly-dependent on fisheries.
Esau said this in Brussels, Belgium at the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States’ (ACP) conference last week.
Currently, the increasing global human population presents grave challenges to the allocation of food to the more than 800 million people who continue to suffer lasting undernourishment.
Within the next 15 to 20 years, the global population will have grown with another two billion people to approximately 9.6 billion.
“Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific States should join the rest of the world to face this challenge of feeding our planet while safeguarding its natural resources for future generations as called for in national, regional and international fisheries’ management instruments,” Esau noted.
ACP states are challenged from the fisheries’ management point of view, and as cooperating partners under the ACP they should carefully look at challenges at hand and mobilize human and capital resources in fighting these glitches.
Esau mentioned that the exploitation of environmental resources should be hinged on an effective value-adding regime for the purposes of sustainable extraction and employment.
Adding value to fisheries’ products is one of the key activities to be enforced by this programme under the ACP Strategic Action Plan.
In addition, fishermen in many regions have shown a marked reluctance to adhere to regulations established by management agencies.
“Adding value allows for better margins to be made at local level, which will add to the betterment of the economic position of ACP countries as players in fisheries.
This consequently contributes to the development of our respective peoples. If the exploitation of wild fisheries have reached its potential as is the case now and margins cannot be exceeded, we have the opportunity for recourse to fish husbandry,” Esau explained.
He noted that small-scale fisheries and aquaculture contribute critically to development in the areas of employment, with over 41 million people worldwide, “the vast majority of whom live in developing countries under which ACP States resort, working in fish production; food security and nutrition, with fish constituting an important source of nutrients for the poor and often being the cheapest form of animal protein”.
As aquaculture develops, ACP governments will need to manage their potential of ecological and social impacts.
Aquaculture has become imperative to meeting the demand for fish, which will continue to increase with population growth, rising incomes and increasing urbanization.
Esau said the key to meeting the growing demand will also be improvements in post-harvest processing to reduce fish losses.
He thus urged other ACP Ministers to ensure that all ACP states are able to adopt the roadmap for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan.
This instrument will be a guiding tool towards the sustainable utilization of the ACP countries’ aquatic resources.
“It is important to note that we borrow our current fisheries’ resources from our future generations, and we have to be prudent custodians of these resources as they have been entrusted to us to use, only the interest thereof,” Esau noted.