Addis Ababa, 1-3-2016: The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), fish experts, representatives of the IGAD Member States, IGAD focal persons and development partners namely; EU, FAO, AU IBAR, Oxfam-Somalia are meeting in Addis Ababa for two days to validate a Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Strategy and IGAD Action Plan in order to harness, develop and review the fishery and aquaculture resources in the IGAD region that was put together in December 2015.
Most of the current fishery activities in the IGAD region are focused on inland waters located in the highlands and populated areas. The fish resource potential and its contribution to resilience, food and nutrition security and livelihood diversification in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) are often overlooked by Member States and development partners because the huge rivers with high potential for fisheries are mainly found in the lowlands (most of them Trans-boundary Rivers).
During the opening remarks Ambassador Tewolde Gebremeskel, Director Peace and Security Division at IGAD emphasized the importance of growing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for economic growth and development through employment, export earnings, improved food nutrition and food security as well as build resilience.
“IGAD as a regional organization has taken the responsibility to develop and mobilize resources through partners like the European Union to support the development of this strategy which will harmonize existing policies of the Member States to uniformly adopt the African Global Strategy framework and to ably utilize the resources sustainably in harmony and with understanding for socio-economic development of the region” he added.
In agreement was Ms. Khola Mohamed Ali, Programme Manager, European Union Delegation who pointed out that because of increased population in the region there is need for increased income for people in the IGAD region to have better livelihoods and sustainability of both income and food for future survival.
“Through proper coordination and execution by IGAD and its Member States we as European Union believe and know that the regional integration agenda can indeed be met through our support to be able to enhance, facilitate, grow the fisheries and aquaculture sectors for a better future of these communities” Ms Khola commented.
IGAD Member States have a huge aquatic resource namely fish and aquatic habitats considering their unique locations hence having a large Economic Exclusive Zone (ZEC).
The participants mutually agreed and highlighted that with the effects of climate change, there is urgent need for collaboration, mutual understanding and pulling together of both human and technological resources to get the fisheries and aquaculture sectors advanced while taking into consideration environmental protection, conservation of aquatic species and operating within the regional framework.
Miss Ana Menezes, Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer at the FAO Sub Region Officer for East Africa was in attendance and encouraged the IGAD Member States to work and improve the existing fishery and aquaculture sector with the commercial approach so that there is revolving economic sustainability.
The overall framework of the strategy has been approved by the IGAD Member States and Developing Partners and upon inclusion of the suggestions and contributions made a final document will be shared with IGAD for approval by the consulting firm.