Fisheries sector is of major importance for the countries of West Africa. In Mauritania, for example, fishing contributes an estimated 30% of the state budget and provides 50% of exports. Absorbing on average 80% of fisheries production from West Africa, the European Union is the main export market for these countries. However, Europe has very stringent health regulations concerning the imports of fishery products into its territory. In response to this situation, the countries of West Africa are seeking to strengthen the capacity of fisheries administrations of the seven member countries in the eco-region Wamer so that fish exports can meet “Hygiene package” of the EU.
A training workshop for national fisheries managers and fishery products quality control services
The “hygiene package” is a European standard for traceability, analysis, control and quality assurance of fishery products.
Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde have come together to upgrade the whole of this regulation in order to improve the quality of fishery products. On the occasion of this meeting, all the actors operating in the fisheries sector were informed of the provisions and measures to facilitate the flow of fish products towards the EU. Although the level of countries in the sub-region and the needs are not the same (because some of them have standards for export and others do not), WWFWamer works on setting up a plan, which would allow these countries to export while respecting hygiene standards, quality assurance and traceability.
West Africa is harmonizing its regulations
Since the advent of the European Union, there has been the so-called harmonization of regulations to go in line with consumer protection.
Therefore, African countries have set up rules of the export market towards the EU in order to meet health standards. Senegal, a major exporter of fishery products who provides the market with over 100,000 tons per year for a market value of 185 billion CFA francs, has an export license on the EU, just like Mauritania.
The standards require important financial means
The establishment of standards is difficult because these standards require writing. Yet writing is not necessarily widespread among fishermen.
For Senegal, things are already in place because the country has a license since 1996 and this approval has been renewed recently in 2010. On the contrary, at the sub-region level, several countries have been rejected for export, such as Guinea and Gambia, and this creates a problem for the economies of those countries where fishing is an important part of GDP. Senegal, however, benefits from the rejection of certain countries in the sub-region, as production is transferred and exported from Dakar. But we must say that this is a real loss to those countries that export their fish products to the international market.
Exchanges at the meeting will, therefore, allow those who are not very advanced in these areas to benefit from the experience of others and to have the support of these countries for an upgrade.
date: November 9th, 2010