Fisheries development to receive US$91m support

08 Jul 2015
Fish is a key part of the Mozambique diet. Credit: Steve Evans from Citizen of the World/CC BY 2.0

Fish is a key part of the Mozambique diet. Credit: Steve Evans from Citizen of the World/CC BY 2.0

Sustainable fisheries development along the East Africa coast and in the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region is to receive World Bank financial support, following recent approval of a US$91 million fisheries loan and grant package aimed at improving regional cooperation and management of near shore and deep sea marine resources.

Sustainable fisheries development along the East Africa coast and in the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region is to receive World Bank financial support, following recent approval of a US$91 million fisheries loan and grant package aimed at improving regional cooperation and management of near shore and deep sea marine resources. 

To be used over the next six years, the various loans and grants include funding for fisheries schemes in Mozambique, Tanzania and Comoros.  

The overall project also includes a grant to support work undertaken by the Indian Ocean Commission. This will benefit the member countries of the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission and French overseas territories in the region which include La Reunion and several other islands with extensive Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). 

Importance
Thought to be one of the World Bank’s largest fisheries projects in terms of funding, the size of the loan and grant package reflects the importance of fisheries to the economic and social development of SWIO countries and territories. 

Among the various grants that have been awarded, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) will use a US$3 million grant from the World Bank’s International Development Association to improve regional cooperation and coordination in the management and development of sustainable fisheries among all South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) members.  

These are: Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Yemen and French territories. 

The grant will be used to finance efforts to create a regional strategy to increase national and regional benefits from key SWIO fisheries, and including multilateral cooperation on cross-border marine resources, particularly migratory species. 

IOC also will work to further develop institutional arrangements involving government agencies and other organisations to improve regional fisheries collaboration benefiting all SWIOFC members. 

This will include developing common regional Minimum Terms and Conditions for tuna fishing licenses to increase coastal states’ financial benefits from their tuna resources. 

In addition, as part of its project remit IOC will assist efforts by Somalia to bring its maritime boundaries and fisheries legislation into conformity with international law, and support preparations for the country to participate in regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of fisheries resources. 

Exports
The SWIO region’s seafood exports are worth about US$1.3 billion annually (not including South Africa), according to the World Bank; of this sum half the value is derived from tuna and shrimp. 

Tuna fisheries are the most important in terms of value, followed by shrimp and other crustaceans. Together these fisheries exports account for a substantial portion of foreign exchange earnings for many countries and territories in the region. 

Fisheries play an important economic role in SWIO coastal rural communities proving employment and income to many people. An estimated 107 million people live within 100km of the coastline in the various SWIO countries of which over one million are thought to work in the fisheries sector, while many more are indirectly involved or affected by the region’s fishing industry. 

More than 45% of SWIO’s countries fisheries workforce are women, according to the Bank, most of which are involved in small-scale fisheries, including processing and marketing fishery products, and in aquaculture. 

Fisheries also are an important source of nutrition for rural coastal communities in the region, particularly those with the lowest incomes who rely on fish as a major source of animal protein. According to the FAO, fish account for 50% of the animal protein intake in Comoros and Seychelles, 26% in Mozambique and Tanzania, and 20% in Madagascar and Mauritius. 

Pressure
The growing coastal population in many East African countries and SWIO island nations is putting the region’s marine resources under pressure. Consumption of fish among coastal communities is mostly of low value species while high value seafood products generally are exported.  

According to SWIOFC, the most commonly over-exploited fisheries are the near-shore high value species, such as lobsters, sea cucumbers, shrimp, octopus, crap, snappers and groupers, both in traditional and artisanal fisheries. 

However, these fisheries also are regarded as having the greatest potential for rapid improvement through national and community-led co-management schemes. As many of the high value species have short life spans of one to three years, yields are expected to improve during the project period due to improved quality and greater local value added processing, while improved resource management should reverse the current level of over-exploitation. 

Interestingly, the most recent resource assessments by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) show that most migratory tuna and tuna-like species are not overfished, apart from the South West Indian Ocean swordfish, marlin, sailfish and Indian Ocean albacore tuna. 

IOTC data shows a steady decrease in migratory species capture in the Western Indian Ocean since 2006, which is partly attributable to piracy problems which have deterred foreign fishing vessels from operating in the area following a number of widely reported ransom hostage taking incidents by well-armed pirates. 

Fisheries in the South West and Western Indian Ocean regions already generate substantial earnings for coast and island nations through foreign fishing agreements, licensing revenue and some local value added processing WIO which were worth about US$250 million several years ago. 

Potential
Recent studies suggest SWIOFC countries have considerable potential to increase their earnings from these fisheries. As a result the World Bank project is designed to improve national and regional fisheries reporting and management to increase the value of coastal and offshore tuna fisheries through efforts including improved enforcement and foreign vessel licensing agreements. 

Coastal artisanal fishing communities will be among the main beneficiaries of the project, in particular those in Comoros, Mozambique and Tanzania. These include subsistence fisheries, households where fishing is an important source of income, small-scale commercial fishermen, and fish and seaweed farmers. 

The project also will target fisheries producer and professional organisations, associations and community level co-management institutions, proving developmental support so they can increase their impact.  

Regional, national and local fisheries sector institutions will be assisted to improve their policy making and public-private initiative coordination capability. 

Private fisheries enterprises, including those engaged in large-scale fishing and aquaculture, foreign-owned fishing fleets, and overseas investors in fish farming and tuna processing also are expected to benefit through SWIO countries’ improved management and development of sustainable fisheries in coming years throughout the region. 

Apart from the grant awarded to the IOC, Mozambique has been awarded project funding worth $37 million to develop sustainable fisheries targeting various priority areas. Tanzania will receive loans and grants amounting to $36 million to develop its fisheries sector, while Comoros has been allocated grants totalling $13 million to boost sustainable fisheries output. 

Over the next six years all three countries will work on various initiatives to improve the management and performance of key fisheries. This will include targeting fisheries policies and strategies, fisheries sector regulations and improving the work of fishery institutions.  

Targets
Among targets the borrowing countries have set is improving local knowledge of national fisheries resources and developing human resources in government fishery organisations, along with their institutional capacity to implement fisheries policies and management plans. 

Part of the approved project funding will be used to increase the economic benefits from the three nations’ key fisheries including investment in fisheries processing and storage facilities.  

Apart from efforts to increase value added fisheries output through greater processing of export products, funding also will be used to diversify fishermen’s livelihoods to curb over-fishing and reduce pressure on over-exploited fishery stocks. In some locations funds will be used to compensate fishermen for implementing restricted closed season access to some over-fished grounds to help fish stocks recover to a sustainable level. 

In Mozambique where about 850,000 households, or about 20% of the population, rely on fisheries for part of their income, the Ministry of Fisheries will be the executing agency for the project. 

Many fishing communities in Mozambique are small and isolated, with fishing and the sale of fish often going alongside with farming activities. A large number of women are involved in fisheries, with many collecting shellfish in intertidal areas while others are employed in processing and marketing seafood products. 

World Bank funding will assist the ministry implement its long term Fisheries Master Plan 2010-2019 which includes training staff and increasing its manpower resources to support sustainable fisheries development at a community and on a national level. 

The priority fisheries identified for the project are: tuna, shrimp, demersal fish, deep water crustaceans and small pelagic fish.  

In addition, Mozambique has been awarded a fisheries development grant worth US$25.7 million by the French Development Fund which will be used finance fisheries infrastructure development to complement the World Bank programme.  

The Ministry of Fisheries is expected to use French aid to rehabilitate several state-run fishing ports under its control and construct aquaculture ponds; also, to buy a fisheries research vessel to survey the nation’s territorial waters.  

French funding will also be used to enhance the ministry’s Monitoring, Control and Surveillance capability and to purchase FADS devices to help coastal fishermen increase their catch of tuna and other migratory fish. 

Targeted at increasing food security as its main priority, Mozambique’s Fisheries Master Plan also aims to develop income from fisheries to reduce poverty and to improve the nation’s balance of payments.  

Developing shrimp production, small scale fisheries and aquaculture are the key elements of the plan which will require more highly trained staff to run the ministry’s various fishery, research and other institutions along with its administrative divisions. 

Fish is a key part of the Mozambique diet. However, fisheries supplies are insufficient to meet current demand which has led to an increase in imports. 

Targets for 2019 include achieving a 3kg per capita increase in fish consumption to reach 11kg annually from 8kg previously and a net increase of US$100 million annually in foreign exchange earnings from fishery exports. The ministry also aims to achieve a huge 100,000 tons per year increase in large and small scale fisheries production. 

Threats
While small and medium enterprises are showing increased interest in establishing semi-industrial fisheries for snapper, tuna, swordfish and other high value species, the fisheries sector also faces a number of threats. 

Weak management of important shrimp fisheries coupled with rising fuel prices and lower demand for high value shrimp has caused a dip in the sector’s performance in recent years. 

In addition, the number of artisanal fishermen involved in marine fisheries doubled from 2002 to 2007 which could lead eventually to over-fishing unless coastal marine resources are better managed. 

Tanzania, to the north of Mozambique, is the largest country in East Africa with an EEZ of 223,000 sq km and a 17,900km coastline. 

Two ministries are responsible for fisheries in the United Republic of Tanzania which is administered by a two-government system, namely the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. 

Small scale fisheries currently account for about 98% of total fishery production and almost 10% of fish exports that are worth almost US$150 million annually, most being fresh water fish from the country’s lakes. 

Although accounting for just 1.3% of GDP, fisheries is of major importance for income, employment and food security, and plays a major economic role in country’s coastal communities. 

Tuna, octopus, shrimp, reef fish, small pelagic fish and mariculture are Tanzania’s priority fisheries. However, as fisheries are not considered a Union matter, mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar manage their fisheries separately.  

The Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries is responsible for the mainland and is the implementing agency for the World Bank project there, while on Zanzibar the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock will oversee its part of the project. 

In addition, the Deep Sea Fishing Authority is responsible for fisheries in the country’s EEZ waters, including issuing fishing licenses to foreign vessels. 

Fisheries development faces a number of constraints which the two fisheries ministries will use consultancy and technical support to try and tackle in their separate areas during the project period.  

The current relatively weak legal and institutional framework within which fisheries operate together with manpower limitations and a lack of detailed knowledge about the state of the nation’s fisheries will need to be rectified for the sector to develop its full potential. 

Infrastructure
Small scale fisheries lack adequate infrastructure including insufficient processing, storage and transport facilities. Both ministries are looking to attract increased investment in future to overcome present limitations and expand the small scale fisheries contribution to coastal communities’ future development. 

Comoros, meanwhile, has targeted tuna, demersal fish, lobster and sea cucumber as its priority fisheries. Established as a Union of three islands, Comoros has a large EEZ covering about 160,000 sq km that straddles important tuna fishing grounds at the mouth of the Mozambique Channel. 

As the domestic fishing fleet lacks the capacity to operate offshore, most fishing in Comoros’ waters are by licensed foreign vessels generating substantial income for the national budget. 

Currently about 30% of the Comoros' 140,000 population are reliant on the fishery sector while about 6% are directly employed in fisheries. Per capita fish consumption is about 29kg a year, almost all supplied from the domestic catch. 

The National Directorate for Fisheries’ under the Ministry of Production, Environment, Energy, Industry and Craft has launched the Comoros’ Fisheries Development Strategy which aims reduce poverty among the most disadvantaged fishing households by developing sustainable fish production and processing. 

Although the Comoros currently lacks adequate fisheries infrastructure including fishing port facilities, processing and other resources to develop a large scale fishing industry, government commitment and the islands’ potential for future increases in production mean that World Bank project funding will help ensure the strong development of small scale fisheries sector in future.

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