Africa Defense Forum
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Madagascar Joins SADC Effort to Curb Illegal Fishing


Madagascar recently signed a charter allowing it to join a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative aimed at combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other sea crimes.

The charter will provide a legal framework to establish and operate the SADC Regional Fisheries Monitoring Control Surveillance Coordination Centre, which will coordinate measures related to fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance in the region.

Through the center, participating nations would help one another collect and exchange information, develop a regional fishing vessel register, and monitor vessel activity.

During a signing ceremony, Paubert Mahatante, Madagascar’s minister of fisheries and blue economy, said IUU fishing is a global problem that requires a global approach. Mahatante urged member states to work together to rid the region of illegal fishing, according to a report on SADC’s website.

By signing the charter in April, Madagascar joined  Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia in vowing to establish the center.

SADC Executive Secretary Elias M. Magosi discussed the center’s importance in a 2021 report by Stop Illegal Fishing.

“The threats to our fisheries come from many directions,” Magosi said. “Climate change is impacting our fish stocks and our growing global population increases the demand for low cost, nutritious food. At the same time our fishing industry is competing with subsidized fleets who operate with financial incentives, and with illegal operators who show no respect for laws, regulations or conservation measures.”

SADC Director of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Domingos Gove said depleted fish stocks, natural disasters, corruption and organized crime all threaten the region’s fisheries.

“These pressures nurture an environment where illegal fishers thrive,” Gove told Stop Illegal Fishing. “Their deliberate and systematic illegal acts are often obscured within complex industrialized fisheries value chains, leaving us with little control over what is fished, where the fish is consumed or who benefits from our fisheries resources.”

Artisanal fishermen on Madagascar’s east coast have bemoaned the growing presence of Chinese fishing trawlers in the island nation’s waters.

At least 14 Chinese industrial vessels have likely fished in Madagascar’s waters in recent years, according to an analysis by OceanMind, a nonprofit organization that specializes in marine compliance and fisheries management.

Many of the 14 vessels have been fishing in Malagasy waters since 2016 or 2017, returning for multiple tuna-fishing seasons, which run from October to January. Three of the 14 vessels are owned by China’s Rongcheng Ocean Fishery Co., which also owns the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956, a vessel that has been caught twice fishing illegally in Ghana, Mongabay reported.

China commands the world’s largest distant-water fishing fleet, and its trawlers are infamous for illegally fishing in protected waters and using a range of illicit tactics to catch far more fish than allowed. China is the world’s worst IUU offender, according to the IUU Fishing Index.

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