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New Tuna Management Body to Start In South West Indian Ocean Indian Ocean, March 26, 13

The Western Indian Ocean States’ efforts to improve marine fishery reforms and governance in the region are beginning to bear fruit following a recent decision to reform the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC) from an advisory body to a full management body.

Through its Coastal East Africa Initiative, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has consistently lobbied countries in the SWIO range which include Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Yemen to strengthen their policies, legal and institutional framework.

The move said WWF will assist in fisheries stock sustainability and increase socio-economic benefits to the over 65 million people who inhabit the coastal zone of the Western Indian Ocean in the 11 countries.

“During an ad hoc session of SWIOFC held in Dar es Salaam Tanzania between 27th and 28th of February 2013, members unanimously agreed and endorsed the decision to reform SWIOFC from an advisory body to a full management body,” said WWF in a statement.

The statement said it is an important transition that will enable the Commission to facilitate binding and non-binding decisions that ensure adequate and professional management of fisheries in the region. The member states furthermore decided to host the secretariat of the Commission in Mozambique, in an effort to bring the centre of coordination closer to the region.

Speaking during the meeting, Deputy Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries Dr Johana Budeba welcomed the decision, noting, “SWIOFC is an important regional fisheries management body and it is prudent that we put in place mechanisms and interventions to have it strengthened for improved fisheries governance.”

Programme Officer WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative Fisheries, Edward Kimakwa said during the meeting that South West India Ocean members should continue to collectively promote sustainable development and management of the marine fisheries in the region.

“We need to see, in the near future a situation where SWIO states are effectively controlling and equitably benefiting from sustainable tuna fisheries stocks. Strengthening SWIOFC as a fisheries management body will certainly go a long way in bringing about stock sustainability and increased socio-economic benefits to the SWIO coastal states,” noted Mr. Kimakwa.

Fisheries experts have warned that mismanagement of fisheries is costing African countries between 2 and 5m USD each year. Illegal fishing alone accounts for the loss of fish valued at USD 1 billion every year from the waters of Sub-Saharan Africa.