Project seeks to harmonize Africa’s fish trade

An initiative to harmonize fish trade in Africa with a view to boosting household incomes for over 12.3 million Africans who directly rely on the sector has been launched. Africa’ fish trade accounts for a paltry 4.9 percent of the global fish trade despite it being endowed with plentiful fish resources in oceans, rivers, lakes and fish farms.

Trade is constrained by inadequate market and trade infrastructure and poor policy implementation. High transport costs, complex and unaligned trade rules and poor market information also prevent Africa from optimizing the social and economic benefits available.

“Africa has the potential to develop its fisheries and aquaculture to play a much greater role in promoting food security, providing livelihoods and supporting economic growth. Per capita consumption has fallen, despite Africa’s great abundance of aquatic resources. FishTrade will create the foundations for a more solid, productive and sustainable building-up of this great, continent-wide, resource,” said Stephen J Hall, Director General, at WorldFish.

Hamady Diop, Programme Manager Fisheries and Aquaculture, NEPAD added: “Recent years have seen increased growth in aquaculture. FishTrade will provide the opportunity to learn from past successes and failures and governments will be given the right information to be able to create the incentives and infrastructure that investors need to meet local demand and penetrate higher value-added export markets.”

According to Steve Wathome, Programme Manager, Agriculture and Rural Development Delegation of the European Union to Kenya, European Commission the EU is convinced that the Fish Trade programme will significantly contribute towards the fisheries sector in Africa. Trade has been identified as one of the major challenges affecting growth of the fish sector in Africa, with challenges being notable with regard to intra-Africa trade and accessing global markets.

“Trade plays a major role in the fishery industry as a creator of employment, food supplier, income generator, and contributor to economic growth and development in several African countries. Domestic and intra-regional trade of fish is important with great potential for enhancing regional integration and food and nutrition security. However many AU Member States still face several constraints in improving their fish trade and marketing sector. This project will enable alignment of policies at the continental level and open-up fish trade that we believe will have a strong effect on the alleviation of poverty in some of our poorest regions,” said Prof. Ahmed El Sawalhy Director AU-IBAR:

FishTrade will work in four ‘corridors’ to generate information on the structure, products and value of intra-regional fish trade and its contribution to food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Recommendations will be prepared on policies, fish certification guidelines and quality and safety standards, as well as regulations. A second stage will focus on strengthening the trade capacities of private sector associations, in particular of women fish processors, women traders and all aquaculture producers, in order for them to make better use of expanding trade opportunities through competitive small- and medium-scale enterprises.

Fish Trade for a Better Future will also support adoption and implementation of appropriate policies, fish certification procedures, standards and regulations by key stakeholders in intra-regional trade.