Mauritania launched a new Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) on Wednesday to work towards tackling unregulated fishing practices.
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Senegal’s president Macky Sall as well as other senior representatives were in attendance at the launch set to position the country as eco-friendly.
The country has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds along its 720km Atlantic coast. But overfishing, and other climate challenges seek to destroy its gains.
“Our African continent suffers an abnormal situation characterised by the existence of numerous resources yet the citizens are often suffering from poverty. The only way to improve this situation is with good governance,” Mauritania President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said last year that the amount of fish in the oceans has halved since 1970 in a plunge to the “brink of collapse” caused by over-fishing and other threats.
Damage to coral reefs and mangroves, which are nurseries for many fish, add to problems led by over-fishing. Other threats include coastal development, pollution and climate change, which is raising temperatures and making waters more acidic.
For fishermen, the future of fisheries is of paramount importance.
Barro Diop, a fisherman said: “Generations and generations will come. It’s true, we are done now, but we want our children and great children to find something better, we want those fishermen to live better than us.”
Peter Eigen, who set up Transparency International and is chairman of the FiTI advisory group said openness and collaboration were key in the fishing sector.
Experts say closing fishing grounds and cracking down on illegal fishing gives stocks a chance to recover. Some grounds, such as those off Fiji, have been revived by stronger protection.
World marine fish catches dipped to 79.7 million tonnes in 2012 from 82.6 million in 2011, according to the U.N.‘s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Safeguarding the oceans can help economic growth, curb poverty and raise food security.