The SADC Technical Committee on Fisheries (FTC) recently met in Johannesburg, South Africa for a two day meeting to consider among other key regional documents the draft Aquaculture Strategy, the draft Aquatic Animal Health Strategy and the Action Plan to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and their alignment to the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Pan African Policy and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture.The meeting held on 16th-17th April 2015 at Birchwood Hotel was officially opened by the representative of the SADC Chair-Zimbabwe, Dr Sitokozile Sibanda, who is also Zimbabwe’s Chief Veterinary Research Officer while the host country South Africa was represented by Director of Fisheries International Relations at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr. Mqondisi Ngadlela. Participants were drawn from all 16 Member States of SADC.
Speaking during the official opening, Dr Sibanda noted that fisheries is globally considered as one of the fastest growing animal food producing sector and is expected to be instrumental in providing solutions for global food and nutrition security for the increasing world’s population, if exploited sustainably.She stressed that this was particularly so for developing countries as fish provides a cheap but important source of animal protein. Dr Sibanda informed the meeting that Zimbabwe had to this effect included aquaculture into the country’s draft National Livestock Development Policy, as it recognises that aquaculture should be at the forefront of the fisheries sectoral development and is expected to provide answers to the global decline in capture fisheries.The meeting started with presentations from development partners who included the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC/SmartFish), Lake Tangangika Authority (LTA), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), WorldFish Centre (WFC) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Member States delegates also presented their country positions.
After presentations from partners and Member States, the FTC made a number of strategic decisions that were noted by Member States. On the SADC Aquaculture Strategy, the FTC endorsed the draft Aquaculture Strategy in principle subject to incorporation of comments provided by the FTC meeting of 16 – 17 April 2015 and recommended it for Ministerial approval. On the SADC Action Plan to combat IUU for fishing, the TFC approved the amended Action Plan for presentation to Ministers for noting.On financing mechanisms for the SADC Regional Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Coordination Centre, the FTC requested SADC Secretariat to apply for a regional Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) for the establishment of the SADC Regional Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordinating Centre (RFMCSCC) to the FAO Sub-Regional Office in Harare, Zimbabwe by May 2015. The FTC also requested the Secretariat to facilitate immediate implementation of activities in the SADC Action Plan to combat IUU fishing which do not have financial implications as recommended by the Task Force on IUU fishing.
On the SADC Aquatic Animal Health Strategy, the FTC endorsed the Strategy and recommended it for Ministerial approval in principle pending incorporation of comments raised by the 16-17 April 2015, and on financing of Fisheries and Aquaculture programmes, the FTC requested the SADC Secretariat to further intensify its efforts to work with all partners in securing resources for implementation of SADC Fisheries and Aquaculture programmes.On harmonisation of fisheries policies in SADC, the FTC requested the SADC Secretariat to proceed with WWF and other partners to facilitate the Fisheries policy harmonisation before end of 2016.