ECOFISH programme, technically supported by Incatema, creates a network to assess and mitigate climate change impacts in small-scale fisheries in the Southwestern Indian Ocean

14 July, 2022

Creating a network to assess and mitigate the impact of climate change in small-scale fisheries in the Southwestern Indian Ocean, within ECOFISH Programme, aims at providing riparian countries necessary data to measure the scope of climate change impacts in fisheries resources. Once available, these data will allow to make informed decisions to adopt appropriate solutions and create synergies to fight climate change, a worldwide problem, as it was claimed by the Indian Ocean Commission Secretary General, Dr Vêlayoudoum Marimoutou.

The evaluation of the effects of climate change on fisheries resources in the region will be based on 17 indicators series that include environmental and socioeconomic data, as well as governance and financing for climate adaptation actions, among others, and offer a global vision of the challenges ahead.

This regional collaboration to face climate change effects is important, since 80% of the negative effects can be felt in Africa, despite the continent barely produces 4% of greenhouse effect gases. Furthermore, the 6th evaluation report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows how, among all ecosystems, oceans are the most harmed. As a consequence, fishers who have no possibility to move, diversify their activity and benefit from technology to keep their catch will face a serious food insecurity challenge, fish being their main source of protein.

Fisheries, food security driver in Africa and the Indian Ocean

Creating the said regional network to assess and mitigate impact of climate change in small-scale fisheries is part of the efforts of ECOFISH Programme, financed by the European Union, and technically supported by Incatema Consulting & Engineering, whose main objective is to make fisheries a lever to develop eastern Africa, southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region (EA-SA-IO).

This program is implemented mainly by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), involving directly the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Eastern African Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community, as explained here.

The network is the outcome of the joint work of officers from national competent ministries for fisheries, from climate change research institutions and the programme national focal points in Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania.

While food security is a first-rate topic, these seven countries met the past 14th and 15th June 2022 in Nairobi to better address the impact of climate change in small-scale fisheries. This is a very pertinent initiative; if global temperature increased by 2°C, fish population in the Southwestern Indian Ocean would decrease between 15 and 50% as compared to 2005. This would worsen a food security situation already critical, where fish represents around 17% of animal protein worldwide. Therefore, it is essential that the region finds solutions to preserve this important food and economic resource. This were the claims of Vincent Degert, Ambassador of the European Union in the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles.