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article imageSeeking to improve the fish trade in Africa to aid development Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 7, 2015 in Environment
A new pan-African project has begun. The project aims to increase the trade in fish. This is being proposed to boost the economy and to improve nutrition for the people of the continent.
Africa is a continent rich in fish resources. However, given its immense size, it currently has around a 5 percent share of the world’s fish trade. Despite the low global share, the fish industry is of economic importance, with an estimated 12 million people employed in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
Boosting the global share will increase employment, lead to greater revenues and provide a mechanism for distributing needed food around the continent. This is according to the charitable body WorldFish. Commenting on this issue, Stephen J Hall, Director General, WorldFish, has told Digital Journal:
“Africa has the potential to develop its fisheries and aquaculture to play a much greater role in promoting food security, providing livelihoods and supporting economic growth.”
Hall added: “Per capita consumption has fallen, despite Africa’s great abundance of aquatic resources. FishTrade will create the foundations for a more solid, productive and sustainable building-up of this great, continent-wide, resource.”
Hall explains that the primary limitations are economic and structural. In terms of the economy, many African countries do not have ready access to overseas markets. This is partly the result of under developed policies and partly due to unfair competition imposed by other countries. In terms of structural issues, trade infrastructure is underdeveloped. Bizarrely, in 2011, Africa became a net importer of fish. This itself is an indicator of the current state of trade and policy.
To help improve things, the European Commission has funded a project called “Fish Trade for a Better Future.” For this, the European Union is working with WorldFish. Also involved is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).
The project aims to provide information and to create market incentives so that both trade and infrastructure can be developed. The initiative will be orientated towards boosting local distribution and international trade. This will involve both marine fish and fish from rivers. Part of the plan is to develop more aquatic farms to produce certain types of fish on a larger scale.
This will take the form of four streams (pun intended). These are: structure, products, value and food security. The focus will be with sub-Saharan Africa. Another important outcome is with nutrition. Fish contains important micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids.
More about Africa, Fish, Aquaculture, World trade