The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has recorded an increase in aquaculture production which rose to 100,950 tonnes in 2020, from 92,773 tonnes reported in 2019.
Ocean and inland waters such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the SADC Region provide significant benefits to citizens such as food and nutrition security from fisheries and aquaculture, and economic and social development from fisheries and aquaculture.
The fisheries sector in SADC Member States, comprising marine and inland capture fisheries and aquaculture, generates a variety of benefits, including nutrition and food security, livelihoods, employment, exports and foreign currency, and conservation and biodiversity values that are of global significance.
As part of the implementation of the SADC Regional Aquaculture Strategy, 12 Member States have implemented national aquaculture programmes in line with the regional strategy, resulting in the increase in aquaculture production.
Development and approval of Guidelines for Aquaculture Management in the SADC Region was done to support sustainable, environmentally and socially acceptable aquaculture practices in the region.
Capacity building programmes to support aquaculture value chains were also conducted through transformation of aquaculture in the SADC Region by way of regional training meetings.
The fisheries sector in the SADC Region contributes an average of about 2% to the SADC Gross Domestic Product, with total average exports worth of US$152 million and average imports of US$100 million.
Fisheries are a vital oceanic and aquatic resource that forms the core of the blue economy in the Region. Besides wild catch, there has been phenomenal growth in fish farming in SADC. While adoption of aquaculture is growing over time due to increasing demand for fish and fish products, people in the Region view aquaculture as a sector for gainful employment and self-enterprise.
The sector employs an average of 145 000 people, of which more than a million benefit indirectly. Per capita fish consumption in the region is 11 kilogrammes per person, which constitutes an average of 16% of the total animal protein intake and 5% of the total protein intake. This makes the contribution of fisheries to food and nutrition security in the Region significant.
Most, if not all the SADC Member States, are well-endowed with fisheries and aquatic plants which could be harnessed for the growth of blue economy. Following the principles of the blue economy, the problems of overfishing, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, fishing in high and open seas are expected to be regulated even though the focus would still be on the optimum use of fishery stock in the Region.
The blue economy may warrant a significant departure from the conventional fishing practices and regulations in the SADC Region. In addition, this may necessitate changes in the legal and institutional structures for enabling a smooth realisation of blue economy goals.
In order to optimise benefits from the fisheries and aquaculture SADC Heads of State in 2001 endorsed the SADC Protocol on Fisheries.
The Protocol aims to promote responsible and sustainable use of the living aquatic resources and aquatic ecosystems of interest to State Parties, in order to promote and enhance food security and human health; safeguard the livelihood of fishing communities; generate economic opportunities from nationals in the region; ensure that future generations benefit from these renewable resources; and alleviate poverty with the ultimate objective of its eradication.
In 2008 SADC Ministers responsible for Marine Fisheries signed a “Statement of Commitment to combat IUU fishing” in support of Article 9 of the SADC Protocol on Fisheries.
The SADC Statement of Commitment to combat IUU fishing, which is an Annex to the Protocol on Fisheries, is aimed at improving regional and inter-regional cooperation with a view to eradicating IUU fishing; strengthening fisheries governance and legal frameworks to eliminate IUU fishing; developing regional plan of action in relation to IUU fishing; and strengthening fisheries monitoring control and surveillance capacity regionally.