Friday, June 13, 2014

Fisheries: Urgent action needed on overfishing, pollution and climate change


ROME, 9 June 2014

ROME, 9 June 2014 / PRNewswire Africa / - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva opened a meeting of the world's only inter-governmental forum on fisheries and aquaculture issues, calling for urgent action to address climate change and other threats to sustainable fisheries and fish stocks.

FAO's Committee on Fisheries (COFI) opened its 9-13 June session to address a range of issues related to the long-term well-being of marine and inland fisheries and aquaculture and potential action by governments, regional fishery bodies, NGOs, fish workers and other actors in the international community.

Saying that fisheries and aquaculture make a "central contribution to food security and nutrition," Graziano da Silva added that sustainable development in the world's island and coastal states was especially dependent on the "vitality of oceans and fish stocks."

"Overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting this vitality at risk. The impacts are already evident. And the world's poor, in rural and coastal areas, are among the most affected," said Graziano da Silva.

"I want to stress the urgency of individual and collective action to address climate change, one of the most pressing challenges the world faces today," he said, adding that FAO was making it a priority in its work to improve sustainable development through its Blue Growth Initiative.

The Director-General pointed out that fisheries and aquaculture were the sources of 17 percent of the animal protein consumed in the world and up to 50 percent in some Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Asian countries. They were also central to the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable families in the world.

"The livelihoods of 12 percent of the world's population depend on this sector. In particular, small-scale fisheries are the source of employment for more than 90 percent of the world's capture fishers and fish workers, about half of whom are women," he said.

"At the same time that small-scale fishers supply most of the fish consumed in the developing world, many of their families are food-insecure themselves. This is a paradox that we are working together to overcome," he said, stressing that small-scale fishers were an integral part of efforts to improve sustainability and food security.

International forum

The Director-General joined Johan Williams, Chairperson of COFI's 31st Session, in welcoming ministers in charge of fisheries or agriculture and rural development from Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, the Republic of Guinea, Indonesia, Mali and Sri Lanka. Participants also included vice-ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers from Azerbaijan, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Maldives, Namibia, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Among other issues, participants were to consider endorsement of two key sets of voluntary guidelines designed to improve sustainability and responsible fisheries conduct, respectively: the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries and the Voluntary Guidelines for Flag State Performance.

They were also to discuss progress in the implementation of the landmark Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and related instruments for international cooperation on fisheries. SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Norway and FAO to launch state-of-the-art research vessel

PR Newswire

ROME, 9 June 2014

ROME, 9 June 2014 / PRNewswire Africa / - Norway is to build one of the most advanced research vessels in the world as part of an ongoing project with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to support developing countries improve the management of their fisheries.

The new $80 million research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen will replace an older craft of the same name that has been navigating the coast of Africa since 1993, carrying out in-depth research into the state of the continent's marine ecosystems for the EAF-Nansen Project, the latest phase of a unique 40-year programme (see box right).

The project works with 32 coastal countries in Africa to help them obtain detailed information on their marine resources so that they can develop fisheries management plans, with a focus on maintaining ecosystem health and productivity.

Scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and participating African countries aboard the boat use 3D imagery to map the seabed and gather vast quantities of data on fish stocks, water and sediment quality, surveying the entire ecosystem from seabirds to fish and from whales to minute plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton).

"What makes this project unique is that developing countries take ownership of the information collected," said EAF-Nansen Project Coordinator Kwame Koranteng. "The overall goal is to enable countries to make their own assessments and prepare and implement fisheries management plans, which are critical for marine resources threatened by overfishing, pollution and climate change."

In coming years the project will extend its efforts to focus on the impacts of climate change and pollution, including environmental monitoring on offshore oil and gas mining activities.

"We hope the project will contribute, among other things, to answering the key question of how climate change will affect the distribution and abundance of marine species, which is a critical issue for the livelihoods of millions of people," said Árni M. Mathiesen, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the project is run by FAO with the scientific support of IMR, and collaborates with national and regional institutions and other UN agencies.

State-of-the-art equipment

Life aboard the Dr Fridtjof Nansen can be tough, with activities carried out 24 hours a day in six hour shifts – from trawling and collecting samples to recording and analyzing data.

But conditions will improve with the new vessel, which at 70 metres long will be more spacious and even better equipped, with berths for 45 scientists, technicians and crew.

Expected to launch in 2016, the vessel will house seven laboratories, an auditorium, the latest sonar equipment to map fish distribution and a remotely-operated underwater vehicle to take vivid pictures of life on the ocean floor.

State-of-the-art equipment including a dynamic positioning system will enable it to work safely around sensitive infrastructure such as oil rigs, while a lookout compartment will be positioned on the main mast for surveys of seabirds and marine mammals.

Success stories

As a direct result of the project and with technical guidance from FAO, 16 countries in Africa have developed management plans for their fisheries.

These include Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, which have collaborated to prepare plans to minimize damage caused by beach seine fisheries in their respective countries and in the sub-region, and Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria, which have similarly worked on industrial shrimp fisheries in coastal Middle Africa.

On the other side of the continent, countries working on fisheries management plans include Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania.

The next step is to help countries to implement their management plans, said Koranteng. "The presence of the R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen in the waters of developing countries has resulted in greater understanding of the need to manage marine resources sustainably and also provides a common language with which people are able to communicate at a regional and often a global level," he said.

Thorough surveys of marine life have resulted in an additional benefit: the discovery of new species. In recent years, scientists have found a new goatfish, named Parupeneus nansen, discovered off coast of Mozambique, and six new species of marine snail found off the Gulf of Guinea.SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

International Festival of Business (IFB) is underway in London

LONDON, 9 June 2014

LONDON, 9 June 2014 / PRNewswire Africa / - African businesses will be promoting sector opportunities to UK industry from 10-12 June.

The International Festival of Business (IFB) , taking place from 9 June to 22 July in Liverpool, will be the UK's most significant international showcase and the biggest concentration of business events globally in 2014. Attracting more than 250,000 visitors from more than 100 countries, including those in Africa, it will facilitate new business-to-business relationships and international trading opportunities.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has partnered with IFB to deliver a British Business Embassy showcasing the best of Britain and key bilateral trade & investment opportunities in advanced and innovative manufacturing. African businesses will also be promoting sector opportunities to UK industry from 10-12 June.

SOURCE UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

AfDB supports Benin to mobilise resources for the 2014-2018 investment programme

AfDB supports Benin to mobilise resources for the 2014-2018 investment programme


TUNIS-BELVEDERE, Tunisia, 10 June 2014 / PRNewswire Africa / - On June 9, 2014, the President of Benin, Boni Yayi, paid a working visit to the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Tunis, where he met AfDB President Donald Kaberuka and members of the management team. Discussions focused on AfDB participation and support at the roundtable to be held in Paris from June 17 to 19, 2014 on the funding of development projects in Benin.

The Paris meeting aims to mobilise 2,900 billion CFA francs (approximately US $6 billion), needed for the country's development investment programme for the period 2014-2018. The goal is to support the economy of Benin in its quest for strong growth and job creation. The total cost of the investment plan is 7,950 billion CFA francs (approx. US $16 billion).

"The transformation of the Beninese economy will be through infrastructure, energy, education and health. Benin cannot go to this roundtable without AfDB," said Yayi, noting that he had come to Tunis to formalise AfDB's invitation.

Vital networks for the economy

During discussions, the Beninese delegation presented key projects in the areas of transport, energy, tourism, agriculture and health. It placed particular emphasis on the importance of road infrastructure, stressing the need for funding for the route through the city of Parakou and the Burkina Faso–Benin cotton road. "These two road networks are vital to the Beninese economy," said Benin Development Minister and AfDB Governor Marcel de Souza.

Yayi said he was delighted at the cooperation with AfDB and at the major contribution the Bank was making towards his country's transformation. As evidence of this he mentioned the significant portfolio of 266 million Units of Account (approximately US $410 million) in key sectors. "For AfDB projects to fully meet their objectives, in terms of improving beneficiaries' living conditions, we are committing ourselves here to take control of the governance of projects."

In welcoming this commitment by President Boni Yayi, Kaberuka commended the roundtable initiative and the relevance of the proposed investment programme. The AfDB President also underlined the Bank's commitment to supporting development investment and further promoting non-sovereign loans with private investors in Benin. "The AfDB will be present at the roundtable and will contribute to its full success, to secure tangible results," he added.

Strong, sustainable growth

The Beninese Government estimates that the country will now have to optimise its new economic assets to secure strong, sustainable and inclusive growth by 2018. "The recent underground survey of Benin revealed significant oil deposits and mineral resources. And our country has valleys that are sufficiently well watered to ensure not only Benin's food security but that of its neighbouring countries as well,"said Minister de Souza.

The AfDB contribution to the funding sought – 2,900 billion CFA francs – will essentially come from the African Development Fund (ADF) and the AfDB private sector funding arm.

Cooperation between AfDB and Benin goes back to 1972. Since then, funding by AfDB has amounted to more than 550 billion CFA francs (approximately US $1,140 billion) in the areas of transport, agriculture, social policy, electricity, water and sanitation, finance, industry and other multi-sectoral operations.

SOURCE African Development Bank (AfDB)