By Desie Heita
Lack of resources and technical capacity among the Southern African Development Community (SADC) coastal member states are some of the reasons the region is unable to effectively deal with the “cancer” of illegal fishing, estimated to cost the region N$8 billion in revenue every year.
Delegates to the three-day SADC conference on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing noted that the “monitoring, control and surveillance centres are not properly organised or coordinated and that some member states lack the capacity to establish the available fish stocks”.
“This makes it difficult to have accurate figures as to how much fish or what is the value of fish stolen by these illegal, unreported and unregulated vessels,” noted the delegates from South Africa.
“[This] has always been and still is the lack of resources to deal effectively with this cancer,” said the delegates.
Such realisation prompted the SADC member states to adopt a programme in which member states would share experiences, information, capacity building and activities coordination.
The eight SADC countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius and Madagascar.
Comoros, Seychelles and Kenya were also invited to attend the conference as non-SADC member states. The conference ended over the weekend.
At the end of the conference eight member states signed a commitment agreement on the establishment of a regional task force, a regional monitoring, control and surveillance centre, as well as on the implementation of stiff penalties for vessels caught with illegal catches and to prohibit such vessels to enter SADC ports.
Dr Abraham Iyambo, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, said SADC coastal states would implement a ban on the trans-shipment of catches from trawlers to other and larger vessels at sea in SADC waters.
“Any vessel transiting through areas under our national jurisdiction must notify its entry and exit from the exclusive economic zones of any SADC member state,” Iyambo added.