Developing a blue economy in West Africa will require fostering fisheries value chains. How can support policies be revised for the region to better harness the opportunities offered by the fisheries sector?
In Africa, approximately 10 million people work in the fishing industry, including 7 million in West Africa and Central Africa. In West Africa, exports and direct access to fishery resources are the two main procurement processes for international markets, especially through fishing agreements such as fisheries partnership agreements (FPAs) with the EU. To these two legal processes, one must add illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) – also known as pirate fishing – which is prevalent in the waters of West African countries and is difficult to quantify. According to INTERPOL, IUU fishing is responsible for an estimated financial loss of US$1.3 billion per year in West Africa. Fishing brings with it many advantages: it fuels economic growth, provides livelihoods to a large part of the population and is, for most people, the main source of dietary protein as it is easily accessible. Fisheries value chains (fishing and aquaculture) are undoubtedly one of the key components of the future development of West African countries. However, this industry has been threatened by the overuse of fishery resources for years, which has impacted not only fish stocks but also the blue economy.