The Declaration was agreed at an assembly of high-level government leaders that included the Vice President of The Gambia, Ministers of Fisheries from Mozambique, Ghana, The Gambia, Niger, Malawi, Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and South Africa, ambassadors and technical delegates.
The Declaration endorses an Action Plan completed during technical meetings August 22-24 involving 100 experts from across the continent at the Fish for All summit. The Action Plan is based on a five point strategy that focuses on supporting capture fisheries, developing aquaculture, improving fish market chains, increasing benefits from fish trade and supporting decision makers with information.
Said President Obasanjo: "If Africa's per capita consumption of fish is just to be kept at its present level, though grossly low and unacceptable, then fish production must be increased by over 250 percent by 2015. This unhealthy situation calls for urgent action and indeed poses a great challenge to all of us."
African fish and fishery products also have an annual export value of US$2.7 billion, he noted, "yet these benefits are at risk as the exploitation of African natural fish stocks is reaching its limits and aquaculture production has not realised its full potential."
Minister of Agriculture for Nigeria, Mallan Adamu Bello commended the WorldFish Center for promoting the idea of a Fish for All Summit that would go a long way to help Africa boost its food production if the Abuja Declaration is implemented.
Dr. Stephen Hall, Director General of the WorldFish Center, who also represented Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the Fish for All Global Steering Committee, stated that: "An investment of $30 million in the recently launched NEPAD-WorldFish Program for Sustainable African Aquaculture alone could increase Africa's aquaculture production by 10% annually to about 3 million tons over the next 15 years, worth some US$1-2 billion. This could create employment for up to 5 million persons by 2020, and provide food security for millions more. It could also generate exports to the value of US$50-100 million annually by 2020. Is that not a good return on investment?" Added Dr. Hall: "Looking at the current situation you could argue that Africa missed 'the green revolution'. Let's make sure we catch up on that one but also make sure we don't miss the 'blue' one".
Other key speakers at the Summit were Dr Richard Mkandawire, Senior Agriculture Advisor, NEPAD, Mr. Ichiro Nomura, Assistant-Director General, FAO Fisheries Department, and Dr. Warren Evans, Director (Environment), World Bank.
The WorldFish Center (www.worldfishcenter.org) is an international scientific research organization supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Its mission is to reduce poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. Most of its work is carried out in developing countries.
The full text of the Abuja Declaration follows.
THE ABUJA DECLARATION ON SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE IN AFRICA
Adopted by the
NEPAD "Fish for All Summit"
Abuja, Nigeria, 25 August 2005
We, the Heads of State and Government meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on the occasion of the NEPAD "Fish for All" Summit, on 25 August, 2005,
Embracing the principles of the NEPAD vision of Africa's development, its objectives to eradicate poverty, achieve food security and build the foundations of sustainable development in the region;
Noting the strategic guidance provided by NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP);
Recalling the provisions of international and regional declarations and instruments on fisheries, food security, ocean governance, trade, the aquatic environment and transboundary waters, in particular the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals, the 2002 Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
Recognizing the dependence of millions of our people on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods, for food and nutrition and for economic wellbeing and commerce, and recognizing the importance of fisheries in the social fabric of our communities and in poverty alleviation;
Conscious of the potential for increased benefits from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and the opportunities to meet the ever-increasing demand for food fish in our countries, our region and globally;
Gravely concerned by the depletion of fisheries resources, the degradation of aquatic environments and the threats to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture;
DO HEREBY RESOLVE, without prejudice to the sovereign rights, obligations, and responsibilities of our countries under relevant international law and relevant treaties and agreements, to:
1. Support regional cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture through NEPAD, Regional Economic Bodies and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, including in the management of transboundary and shared aquatic resources and ecosystems;
2. Support national actions to accede to, to ratify, and to implement international conventions for the sustainable use and protection of the living aquatic resources and the aquatic environment of the region;
3. Implement the provisions of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, in particular through improved governance of fisheries; ensuring the environmental sustainability of fisheries; examining means to progressively replace "open access" to fisheries resources with "limited access regimes" and introduction of rights-based fisheries; taking steps to control fleet and fishing capacity; and ensuring an equitable balance of resource allocation between small-scale and industrial fishers.
4. Empower fishing and fish farming communities, civil society and stakeholder organizations to effectively participate in policy-making, planning and implementation processes, with particular reference to the equitable allocation of resources, and the rights of the poor and disadvantaged;
5. Ensure that fisheries and aquaculture is adequately reflected in the national and regional economic policies, strategies, plans and investment portfolios, including poverty reduction and food security strategies.
6. Foster the development of an appropriate investment climate for fisheries and aquaculture, including legal and institutional reform and enforcement where required, improved incentives and access to capital for private investors, and strategic public sector investments;
7. Direct particular attention to harnessing the potential and entrepreneurship of small-scale fishers, fish farmers, fish traders and service providers and their associations, including women entrepreneurs who have been leading the development of fish processing and trade in much of the continent;
8. Foster small, medium and large-scale aquaculture production in a sustainable and environment-friendly manner compatible with the rational use of land and water resources and evolving market opportunities;
9. Build human and institutional capacity at national and regional level with particular emphasis on training institutions, transferring appropriate technologies and knowledge to small producers and ensuring a rational and scientific basis for management decisions and design of programs;
10. Conserve and rehabilitate aquatic environments and habitats essential to living aquatic resources and aquatic biodiversity; and take measures to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts of aquaculture on the aquatic and coastal environment and communities;
11. Promote trade in artisanal and industrial fish products to respond to regional and global market opportunities for African fish products, including by removal of intra-regional trade barriers, developing common approaches and positions on international trade in fish and fishery products, and on harmonizing standards on products traded in the region.
12. Pursue these objectives through NEPAD and Regional Economic Communities, in collaboration with international partners in science and development;
13. Contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development by facilitating the adaptation of existing regional, national, and local institutions and regulations to the changing requirements of the sector and its challenges and opportunities;
14. Call upon the international community to provide the financial and technical support required to implement sustainable African fisheries and aquaculture through aligned and harmonized partnership arrangements and in pursuance of NEPAD's vision and principles for action;
AND DO HEREBY DECIDE, that the Resolution be implemented as soon as possible and that the Plan of Action prepared and adopted as a part of the NEPAD-Fish for All Summit process be used as a guideline for formulating and implementing policies, programs, projects, and strategies at the national, regional and continental levels.