Skip to content

Striking a Balance between Implementing the Treaty and Fishing Sustainably in Africa’s Oceans

Following two decades of fierce negotiations, over 60 countries recently signed a UN Ocean Treaty to conserve biodiversity on the high seas. There are reasons to celebrate the Oceans Treaty for what it represents – an extra mechanism to protect our oceans and their resources. Having lost access to fish on the high seas, fleets will need new fishing grounds. African waters are an attractive target for various reasons. Firstly, they’re rich in diverse species. Secondly, these waters are not properly monitored, which means countries can take advantage of them. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing already costs Africa over US$2.3 billion annually. Thirdly, coastal African states appear willing to enter into new agreements with nations that fish outside their own borders. This is worrying because it’s going to put Africa’s vulnerable fish stocks at risk. Distant-water vessels are already known to be exploitative.