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Malawi ratifies SADC charter on fisheries


The Malawi government has unveiled its National Aquaculture Strategy, which is aligned with the SADC, as well as a paper titled “Working Together to Protect Our Fisheries.”

The country also ratified the SADC Regional Fisheries Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Coordination Centre Charter (MCSCC).

The signing and launch ceremonies took place on June 4 in Lilongwe, Malawi, during an event sponsored by Malawian Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH sponsored the event (GIZ).

In her keynote address, Minister Tembo said that by signing the Charter establishing the MCSCC, Malawi demonstrated the need for regional cooperation and recognised the important role that the Centre would play in advancing the SADC regional integration agenda. The objective of the Charter is to provide a legal framework for the establishment and operationalisation of an institution that will coordinate measures relating to fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance in the SADC region.

Malawi became the ninth state party to the Charter, joining Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. Two-thirds of SADC member states are required to sign the Charter for it to enter into force.

Minister Tembo encouraged the SADC Secretariat to continuously engage other member states which have not yet signed the Charter to do so to enable the region to realise the commitment to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. She also committed to engaging other SADC ministers to commit to signing the Charter to strengthen cooperation and capacity to stop illegal fishing and to build sustainable blue growth in the SADC region.

In addition, Minister Tembo launched a SADC regional report on “Working Together to Protect Our Fisheries”, to commemorate the International Day for the fight against IUU fishing which is observed annually on June 5.

The minister also launched the new SADC-aligned National Aquaculture Strategy for Malawi. The strategy will help Malawi to domesticate and implement the SADC Regional Aquaculture Strategy and Action Plan, as part of the SADC Protocol on Fisheries.

The strategy was developed through the aquaculture alignment change project under the SADC Programme on Strengthening National and Regional Linkages, which is implemented by GIZ and funded by the German Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Union.

Minister Tembo noted that fisheries and aquaculture provided a vital source of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well-being for people throughout the world. She also noted that in a world of a growing population and persistent hunger, fish has emerged as an important commodity for the achievement of food and nutrition security, hence domestication and implementation of these regional priorities and instruments is very important for the SADC region.

She highlighted challenges facing fisheries and aquaculture which need to be addressed. These challenges include IUU fishing, fish diseases, degradation of aquatic habitats, overfishing and negative ecosystem impacts. She recalled that 2020 was a year of reckoning during which the Region faced multiple crises, including a global COVID-19 pandemic and the continued crises of climate change and pollution. She took note of the challenges that women experience along the fish value chain.

Minister Tembo asked SADC member states to recognise and domestic the Food and Agriculture Organisation Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication to address the challenges.

She said that in 2021, the region must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing, and in so doing, recognise that the restoration of nature is imperative to the survival of the planet and the human race. The minister also asked the region to join the rest of the world in commemorating World Environment Day, also observed on June 5, under the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration”, and focus on resetting relations with nature.

“By bringing degraded ecosystems back to life, let us go and clean those river banks and lakeshores, let us restock our waters with those fish species and continue to promote fisheries reserves and sanctuaries, let us simply give nature space to recover, as this will increase benefits for our societies and to biodiversity,” said Minister Tembo. She emphasised that without reviving ecosystems, it would be challenging to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Climate Agreement. She congratulated the SADC Secretariat for promoting the profile of fisheries and aquaculture and their importance in the global food systems. 

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