ANTANANARIVO – Fishery resources contribute to the food security of millions of people in the world and are especially important in island nations like Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, and the Seychelles. According to the United Nations, more than 600 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods, but fishery resources face increasing threats from Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Despite measures taken at both the national and regional levels to deter, combat, and eliminate IUU fishing, this problem poses a significant threat to marine biodiversity and the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities, and undermines the potential for a sustainable and equitable regional Blue Economy. Given the global nature of IUU Fishing, solutions require effective regional and international collaboration.
To address these important issues, the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar and Comoros has partnered with Blue Ventures Conservation Madagascar, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, and the Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IHSM) to bring together fishery experts, government representatives, civil society, and the private sector from these island nations June 5-7 in Antananarivo.
This symposium is an important part of a larger 227,000 USD grant to Blue Ventures from the U. S. Department of State to promote public awareness, facilitate policy reform, develop a regional IUU strategy, and strengthen the network of actors in the Western Indian Ocean.
In his remarks to the symposium, Tsimanaoraty Paubert Mahatante, Madagascar’s Minister of Fisheries and Blue Economy, stressed the importance of this work to Madagascar:
“As part of the improvement of fisheries governance, we have committed to joining FiTI, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative, and today we have become a candidate country. Madagascar will soon have its own strategy and a national plan to combat IUU fishing and intends to sign partnership agreements with NGOs such as Sea Shepherd and Global Fishing Watch for the implementation of this document.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries and Polar Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Maxine Burkett, through recorded remarks, highlighted the United States’ ongoing commitment: “Combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (or IUU fishing) is a global priority of the U.S. government. Our embassies in Western Indian Ocean island nations have made IUU fishing a central part of their work….We encourage other nations in the region to consider joining FiTI, too, and the Western Indian Ocean region could become a world leader in building increased collaboration and coordination of fishing policy.”