A new study on Africa’s fisheries sector has revealed that the sector could benefit substantially from well-built infrastructure and support services to build resilience post-Covid-19.
The sector is faced with an avalanche of systemic problems: fragile value chains and marketing, weak management institutions, and governance of fisheries resources.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, African economies need to build and strengthen the resilience of Africa’s fisheries sector, the authors suggest.
Accordingly, the report makes strong recommendations to the effect that the marine and fisheries sector require urgent reforms to ensure that it contributes to the wealth of Africa’s coastal countries.
Furthermore, the report suggests the establishment of infrastructure and support services at landing and processing sites of fishery products, with sites having priority access to water, the report adds.
More importantly, African governments must accept the essential role of marine fisheries stakeholders. Also, this should include the right artisanal fishermen to access financial and material resources.
Building resilience also requires strengthening the collection of gender-disaggregated statistical data. This is because the sector employs a sizeable number of women and youth, the report notes.
Governments need to invest in human capital to ensure high-level skills in the different areas of fisheries management, the report reveals.
Also, there is urgent need to improve governance frameworks. This includes encouraging the private sector and civil society to participate in formulating sectoral policies and resource management measures, the report indicates.
About the Research
Researchers from the African Natural Resources Centre conducted the study from March to May 2020. The study focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries; Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Seychelles. According to the study, the countries’ economies depend heavily on marine fisheries.
The fisheries sector is a large source of economic activity in Africa and provides millions of jobs.
Also, the study centres on appropriate and timely policies that the countries have taken to avert the economic disruptions posed by the pandemic. These include avoiding supply disruptions, saving the livelihoods of the majority and maintaining governance transparency as the pandemic unfolds.
Furthermore, the study highlights infrastructure challenges such as landing facilities, storage and processing capacity, social and sanitary equipment, water and power, ice production, and roads to access markets.
Essentially, marine fisheries are a crucial contributor to food security and quality of life in Africa. A well-developed marine fisheries sector can support the nutrition of more than 300 million people. Majority of these people are children, youth and women. The sector also provides more than 10 million direct and indirect jobs.
One thing worthy of note is that the fisheries sector is mainly informal. It is rarely considered in public policies or in assessing the wealth of countries.
Compared with other sectors, the African fisheries sector has not been spared from the pandemic. Covid has affected supply markets and regional trade. This has resulted in substantial economic losses for most households that depend on fisheries.