SADC states get tough on illegal fishing

Eight Southern African coastal states have agreed to set up a regional task force to deal with illegal fishing in their waters and save dwindling fish stocks, fisheries ministers said on Friday.

A three-day ministerial conference held in Namibia decided to implement the plan which would ban trans-shipment of catches at sea and prevent illegally caught fish, mainly by Asian vessels, from landing at regional ports.

“Each year our coastal members of the Southern African Development Community [SADC] lose approximately eight billion Namibia dollars ($1-billion) in revenue due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) marine fishing,” said Abraham Iyambo, Namibia’s Fisheries Minister.

“We cannot allow this plunder of our oceans fish stocks to continue,” he told reporters in Windhoek.

The plan would see the launching of a regional monitoring centre, a tracing system for caught fish and fish products and stricter control of which vessels fly flags of SADC states.

“Globally, IUU fishing accounts for 30% of the world’s fish worth some 120-billion Namibia dollars annually—so we have to act as this crime deprives SADC states of revenue, jobs are lost and food security is at risk,” said Iyambo.

By June next year, the regional action plan will be finalised and implementation is set for the end of 2011, according to the commitment agreement signed at the end of the three-day conference.

The accord was signed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Tanzania. Angola will sign later, an official said, as the relevant minister was not present.

Each country would draft their own national action plans to combat IUU, Namibia being the first SADC member which has completed the plan. - AFP



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