The next Conference of African Ministers of Fisheries & Aquaculture (CAMFA) will be held in Durban, South Africa 24-27 March. It’s time to review this event and address our respective governments!

It is also time to reflect on the approach of the (New Partnership for African Development) Nepad and the African Union (AU) towards reforming African fisheries.

In 2011, Nepad initiated an evaluation process involving several stakeholders from five African regions. This process was the outcome of a Think Tank meeting with African stakeholders – where only two or three representatives of small-scale fishing communities participated.

Parallel to or just before this process, the AU/Nepad produced a report, which we finally got access to in December 2013: Development Aid for Fisheries in Africa: Setting out Key Principles for Fisheries (2011). It was never made available to us, but it can be found on:

We will get back to that report in a short while.

The evaluation process initiated in 2011, resulted in the finalisation of five regional reports, which the AU/Nepad was supposed to synthesize into one report with a set of recommendations for the African policy reform. The deadline was one year ago, but the process was abandoned – with no reasons given. The recommendations were supposed to feed into the CAMFA, that was supposed to happen in February 2013 but is now happening at the end of March this year.

Back to the ‘Development Aid for Fisheries in Africa…’ document: The Chief Executive Officer of the Nepad Agency, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki – who was Prime Minister of Niger some time ago – stresses the need “ open the policy space to ensure wider participation in policy development and implementation by fishers, fish farmers, traders, consumers…”. He also makes it clear that the document builds on the PROFISH (World Bank) lessons, and in particular on the PROFISH/PERC report titled ‘the Political Economy of Natural Resource Lessons for Fisheries Reform’.

Note that this report “is a compilation of… papers prepared by acknowledged international experts in the fields of fisheries and wider natural resource reform which were reviewed at a workshop convened by the Property and Environment Research Centre (PERC) in May 2009. The report forms an important initial input into an ongoing enquiry into the political economy of fisheries reform initiated by the World Bank in partnership with the Partnership for African Fisheries (a United Kingdom Department for International Development funded program of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)).” – from the Preface of the report. The entire report can be downloaded here:

You should also note that PERC is the US’s oldest and largest institute dedicated to improving environmental quality through property rights and markets (

And reading through the Development Aid for Fisheries in Africa report, it is abundantly clear that it’s a condensed version of the PROFISH/PERC report. The very short and precise summary of the 226 pages of the PROFISH report is: deregulate and privatise in order for big corporations to take over and drive the macro-economy of fisheries. No attempt is made to make sincere reference to, or include perspectives and voices of the small-scale fishing sector.

So, The Development Aid for Fisheries in Africa document does not include the perspectives of small-scale fisheries. Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki is clearly failing to ensure that his department opens “… the policy space to ensure wider participation…”.

A minor attempt was made to include the voices of the African small-scale fishers in the reform process just before Christmas. Around the end of November WFFP Africa and others were invited to a Nepad/AU meeting on the reform process – on a two week notice. This was a tick the box meeting for Nepad to be able to say “we have now consulted with civil society”, and it was only called upon by Nepad because of criticism provide by partners of the Pan-African network.

In terms of process, it also has to be stressed that calling a meeting with a two-week notice, and only three months before the final set of recommendations has to be tabled at the CAMFA meeting, shows a current inability of Nepad to work together with small-scale fisher organisations.

So what will the final recommendations for the African Ministers for Fisheries eventually look like? Nepad/AU has commissioned more ‘experts’ to develop Policy Briefs with recommendations for policy reform. We have been denied the opportunity to engage in the process of developing the briefs. A qualified guess is that these briefs will carry the same messages as the Development Aid for Fisheries in Africa report.

As representatives of fishing communities, we have an obligation to make sure that our voice is heard. CAOPA (Confederation of African Artisanal Fisher Organisations) is hosting an open E-discussion, which started on 6 January and will end on 3 February. This will be a bi-lingual discussion, with all content and posts translated simultaneously in French and English.

The aim of this E-discussion is to provide a platform for in-depth discussion on a range of priority issues for the small-scale sector. CAOPA will facilitate the discussion and provide a summary document of the key points, which in turn will be presented prior to the CAMFA meeting. The E-discussion should also provide an opportunity for participants to respond to the reform strategy when it becomes a public document – which should be available from 20 January.

Contributors can make their input directly on the CAOPA website, where themes proposed for the discussion are detailed

You can also send an email to the following address

We encourage you all to urge your respective governments to reject the World Bank instructed policies and the colonisation of our fish resources.

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