Illegal (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated – IUU) fishing is a global problem affecting both developed and developing countries, taking place in the high seas as well as in national waters. The illegal activities form a complex web – from illegal fishing activities, to illegal trade, and finally to consumers demanding species from unsustainably fished stocks with the driving force behind it commonly being the high profits to be made from not following the regulations of legal fishing.
IUU fishing has a number of social, economic and environmental impacts, including reduced food security, lost livelihoods and state revenues, as well as fish stock depletion and damaged ecosystems, with devastating effects in developing countries due to their greater vulnerability. With increasing consumer demand and little risk of being caught or convicted, IUU fishing will continue to be an attractive option unless coherent action is taken regionally and globally.
In partnership with governments, civil society, NGOs, international organizations and the fishing industry, the IUU or Stop Illegal Fishing Working Group is working to promote coherent policy reform across Africa with regards to illegal fishing, whether taking place in inland or marine waters and whether operating at the small-scale or industrial level.
Through awareness-raising, knowledge building, as well as support to on-the-ground implementation and to ongoing and new initiatives, this Working Group aims to encourage the necessary change.
SIF is part of the wider movement to achieve the improved governance, and thus performance, of fisheries so that fisheries contribute towards economic growth across the African continent. In order to achieve these aims the SIF programme is involved in working towards the overarching goal of African fisheries reform and the formation of a home grown African voice on issues relating to fisheries.
The process and outcome of the work of the Working Group will feed into the overarching PAF Think-Tank on issues of special significance to the illegal fishing agenda.
In addition to the Think-Tank aspect, the Working Groups will also provide the entry point to work in countries and organisations, to engage partners on case studies and projects and to create the ownership that will ultimately drive the PAF process through to reform.
Description of SIF
Before PAF was initiated, the Stop Illegal Fishing Working Group was a programme on its own. It came to life in mid 2007 with a clear focus on the marine fisheries of the coastal Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) states. In its first year of operation the Stop Illegal Fishing Programme focused on:
These initiatives paved the way for concrete actions to stop illegal fishing and a new policy for SADC – the SADC Statement of Commitment on IUU fishing. In July 2008 at a regional Conference in Namibia, the SADC Ministers responsible for marine fisheries cemented their political commitment against IUU fishing by signing this Statement and voicing their commitment to act on it.
The Stop Illegal Fishing Programme received an overwhelmingly positive response from the governments, NGOs, fishing industry, civil society and programmes that it worked with. But it was the championing of the Stop Illegal Fishing campaign by the African leaders that provided the essential catalyst to pave the way for political commitment for change. The message the ministers gave was clear – illegal fishing will not be tolerated nationally or regionally in southern Africa and their action since has proved this commitment.
The momentum gained from the first year of the Programme has created the enthusiasm for a Ministerial Task Force for African Fisheries under the auspices of the African Union and NEPAD and the development of an umbrella programme called the Partnership for African Fisheries.
2009 was a transition year for the Stop Illegal Fishing Programme. Previously, the programme focused on the southern African countries and on industrial ocean fisheries. Now, as it has become a Working Group of the Partnership for African Fisheries, it is working across Africa with all stakeholders to stop illegal fishing whether located in inland or marine areas and whether operating at the small scale or industrial levels.
A coordination team based in Botswana, coordinated by NFDS Africa runs the day-to-day implementation of the work programme and coordinates the links between partners.
The SIF strategy focuses on five areas – or Working Group outputs – that are all essential elements of transparent policy making as well as key aspects of overcoming illegal fishing in Africa. The Stop Illegal Fishing Working Group will:
Partnership is at the core of the Stop Illegal Fishing approach, and our partnership projects come in all shapes and sizes, such as;