SÃO TOMÉ-ET-PRINCIPE: towards a more sustainable coastal pelagic fishery

24 11 2023 | 12:35Boris Ngounou / AFRIK21

With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the government of São Tomé and Principe launches a national strategy for analyzing and upgrading pelagic fisheries in coastal areas. Planned for a period of 10 years, this strategy aims to make coastal pelagic fishing more profitable and more environmentally sustainable.

The Government of São Tomé and Principe, through its Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, presented on November 6, 2023 in São Tomé the capital, the strategic plan for the coastal pelagic fisheries sector. This is coastal fishing targeting pelagic fish, that is to say species of fish living in waters close to the surface or between the surface and the seabed.

Discussions on the management plan for the national strategy for the pelagic fisheries of São Tomé and Principe will begin no later than November 2023. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, it Attention will need to be paid to a 25% increase in the number of boats, reaching more than 2,700 in just four years since the last survey in 2019. At the same time, capacity building aimed at promoting the improvement of skills in of handling techniques, safety at sea and boat building is about to start. Training of trainers on revolving fund management scheduled for December 2023 will then be delivered to five fishing communities, helping them manage investments in cold chain equipment, transportation or new product development.

A strategic plan deployed as part of the FAO FISH4ACP program

Lasting 10 years, the strategic plan for analyzing and upgrading the coastal pelagic fishing sector of São Tomé and Principe takes place within the framework of FISH4ACP, an initiative of the Organization of African States, Caribbean and Pacific (OACPS) implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and of Development. Operating in eleven other countries, FISH4ACP works to strengthen fish value chains.

“ FAO is helping São Tomé and Principe turn its coastal pelagic fisheries blue. We are pleased that the FISH4ACP program contributes to the four goals that are at the heart of FAO's efforts: better production, better nutrition, better environment and better lives, leaving no one behind. », rejoices Athman Mravili, FAO sub-regional coordinator for Central Africa.

Pelagic species represent 60% of total fish catches

According to the value chain analysis carried out by the FISH4ACP program, the annual catches of coastal pelagic fish such as flying fish, blue runner, small tuna and frigate mackerel represent almost 60% of the catches. total fish of São Tomé and Principe.

With more than half of protein consumption coming from fish, coastal pelagics provide a vital source of affordable food in this island country off the coast of central Africa. The same study indicates that in 2021, the annual catches of coastal pelagics were estimated at almost 8,500 tonnes, according to the analysis, of which 80% were sold fresh on the local market for a sales value of more than 4 million dollars. The analysis also raised concerns about the sustainability of fish stocks and the impact of coastal pelagic fishing on biodiversity and ecosystems.