The workshop equipped the 70 participants with the requisite skills to be able to negotiate favourable agreements for their respective countries. It was organised by the African Union Commission, through the African Union Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), with support from the European Union Commission.
Senegalese Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, Mr. Oumar Gueye who chaired the opening ceremony, underscored the need to reverse the trend of over exploitation of fishery resources, which he said, was threatening food security and economic sustainability.
On the theme, he emphasized, it is important to harmonise positions and legislation to "stop overfishing in Africa." He reaffirmed his country's support to this process.
He, however, regretted African countries negotiate as individual blocs against well-structured and untied blocs like the EU usually to the detriment of the continent, and called for a concerted effort and coordinated approach to reversing this trend.
"We should not have fishing agreement codes in our individual countries, let’s have a deeper reflection on how to negotiate with well organised groups who speak with one voice, the whole of Africa must negotiate from a single stand point," he said.
Dr Simplice Nouala, Head of Animal Production Unit, representing the Director of AU-IBAR, highlighted the main problems raised by fisheries agreements negotiated in Africa, including their "lack in commercial devices that support the massive export of fishery products" and low impact assessment mechanisms of these various agreements on the exploitation of fishery resources.
He called for "strong involvement of ministries responsible for fisheries" in negotiating future agreements.
The three days of work enabled the participants to absorb the conceptual tools and techniques of negotiation of fisheries agreements, to share the experience of some countries, to carry out group work on negotiating regional agreements, simulate negotiation cases (between African countries and bilateral or multilateral foreign powers).
Experts also presented the results of various studies on best practice in negotiating fair and durable agreements, the mastery of international legal instruments, and evaluation of fisheries agreements signed by some member countries of the African Union.
At the end participants adopted a report on the evaluation of past and present fishing agreements, signed by some AU member countries, and approved Terms of Reference and the recommendations of the three working groups on regional cooperation in negotiating fishing agreements.