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Striking a Better Deal for Africa’s Blue Economy

To regulate the fishing industry, African countries have signed numerous agreements with trading blocs such as the European Union (EU). The EU has two forms of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements with African states: the tuna agreement and the mixed agreement. The tuna agreement allows EU vessels to pursue migrating tuna stocks as they move along the shores of Africa and through the Indian ocean. The mixed agreement allows EU vessels access to a wide range of fish stocks in the coastal state’s exclusive economic zones. While these agreements contribute revenue to coastal states, who cannot extract the resources themselves, they are not all that they seem. First, the value negotiated for these agreements does not commensurate with the value of species removed, as such favours the EU economically than African states. Second, depleted or overexploited species – such as bigeye and yellowfin tuna, hake and sardinella – are targeted. Third, some vessels that benefit from these agreements use the access to then engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities. Income accrued by small-scale fishers in Africa has reduced by up to 40% over the last decade. This is because less fish are available. It’s a huge food security challenge in places where fish are the only source of protein.