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Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique
Close to the white sands of the shores of Mozambique, crews in wooden boats with hand-nets pull up their catch. The same scene plays out each day over the 1,500 miles of coastline as nearly 85 percent of fishing is Mozambique is done by hand.

While large fishing trawlers comb the ocean with nets hanging from each side of the ship. The turning of the turbines can be heard on deck and wenches wine as they bring up the catch. Below deck, hidden away from the rising sun over the Indian Ocean, humming refrigerators and freezers await the 30 to 40 tons of incoming shrimp catch for the European market. These two scenes have played out for years, but over the last two decades, sustainable fishing in Mozambique has become the new battle.

Need For Sustainable Fishing in Mozambique

These large fishing trawlers are not necessarily evil behemoths eating up all the shrimp; rather, they provide jobs and contribute to Mozambique’s export market. Around 82 percent of the shrimp exported by Mozambique in 2017 were exported to the European Union; now, the nation’s once plentiful stocks are beginning to dwindle due to overfishing by all parties.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “artisanal fishers” catch shrimp and other fish too young and too soon. These “artisanal” fishers or small-scale fishing operations catch up to 85 percent of the fish caught. Shrimp and fish mature faster than many species, and the rate at which they are caught so young far outpaces the number of times they can reproduce. The WWF says there is still time to save the fish stocks in Mozambique through promoting sustainable fishing.

The government of Mozambique and the world took notice when in 2013, the government passed a law regulating fishing rights. The bill was designed to help small-scale fisheries and also regulate their catch, and turned out to be extremely influential for the nation. A combined effort by Rare, the World Bank and the Mozambican government helped plot recovery zones, or areas where the fish population can replenish, and coordinate with fishermen to maintain their livings.

Efforts for Change and Areas of Growth

In 2016, the World Bank approved a $91 million loan and grants package for fisheries in East Africa and the South West Indian Ocean area. The South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission received a grant to increase cooperation between member nations to increase sustainable fishing practices.

Sustainable fishing in Mozambique is also necessary because of unregulated fishing or IUU fishing. IUU fishing stands for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. It is estimated that IUU fishing costs Mozambique $37-67 million each year. This money could be put back into the system to improve sustainable fishing in Mozambique and the people’s pockets.

In addition, the already taxed ecosystem is further damaged which will hurt the people and industry of Mozambique in the long run. IUU fishing is a problem up and down the East Coast of Africa. Some of the money from the World Bank given to the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission will hopefully be used to combat this problem.

Global and Individual Support

Support for sustainable fishing in Mozambique is projected to continue into the future for the world has taken notice and stepped up to the plate. Whether global organizations or individuals, spreading the word, donating or volunteering can always help abroad and at home.

Overfishing is not a problem specific to Mozambique — it takes place all over the world. You can help by simply checking the label at the grocery store before you buy; yes, it can be that easy.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Unregulated Fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) results in billions of dollars of lost revenue annually. A recent, groundbreaking treaty passed by the U.N. combats the threat against this natural resource and protects the livelihood of millions.

The Problem

Globally, IUU fishing costs $23 billion each year, with West Africa alone seeing a loss of US $1.3 billion each year. IUU fishing affects West Africa the most dramatically, with unregulated fishing comprising one-third to one-half of all fishing. One in four jobs in the region are linked to the fishing industry, further exacerbating the devastating effects of illegal fishing.

Employment, trade, and food nutrition and security in W. Africa depend heavily on fisheries. As a result, illegal fishing can put the livelihoods of millions of people at risk. In recent years, the increased demand for fish worsened the economic losses seen as a result of illegal fishing.

The majority of IUU fishing in W. Africa can be traced back to vessels coming from East Asia and Russia. Smaller nations, such as Senegal and Mauritania, lack sufficient resources to monitor illegal fishing off their coasts. Scarce resources also prevent developing nations from monitoring legal fishing agreements made with the European Union, Southeast Asia, and Russia.

The inability to monitor illicit and illegal fishing practices destroys Africa’s potential for a “Blue Revolution” in ocean management. With access to the sea, Africa’s economy would greatly benefit from a boom in the fishing industry. However, IUU fishing and minimal capacity to monitor it jeopardizes economic growth.

Not only does IUU fishing result in loss of revenue, it also contributes to global overfishing. Overfishing is a significant problem and could be quelled through increased monitoring of illegal fishing practices. Doing so would help guarantee the sustainability of the industry in the future.

Experts predict that by 2030, 80 percent of the world’s poor will live in Africa. Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary-General, states that this prediction could be prevented, “if the runaway plunder of natural resources is brought to a stop. Across the continent, this plunder is prolonging poverty amidst plenty. It has to stop, now.”

The Solution

Originally adopted as a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agreement in 2009, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA) became an international accord on June 5, 2016.

Twenty-nine countries signed onto the treaty including Australia, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, the European Union (as a member organization), Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Iceland, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, the United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

PSMA changed the requirements for monitoring IUU fishing. Historically, each country monitored its own fleets. The new treaty shifts this responsibility, calling for ports to track information on each vessel upon entrance.

Port state measures are more efficient and cost-effective for fighting illegal fishing. By detecting illegal fishing, stopping ill-caught fish from being sold, and sharing fishing vessel information globally, PSMA will improve the oversight of the fishing industry and lessen the resource limitations faced by developing countries.

The treaty also requires wealthier countries to aid those with minimal resources. South Korea has already committed to making a financial contribution and other nations are expected to follow this example. In addition, the treaty installed the Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to assist with logistical, legislative and legal aspects of implementing the agreement.

The adoption of PSMA also contributes to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting the conservation of and sustainable use of oceans, specifically targeting IUU fishing.

Despite the strides made with the new treaty, the U.N. urges stronger implementation of PSMA. Combatting IUU fishing still faces resource and capacity restraints and the world will not see a decline in illegal fishing without action by the international community.

Anna O’Toole