The EU and Africa are working together to both protect the ocean and develop sustainable activities.
In 2017, during the 5th EU-African Union Summit, leaders adopted the Abidjan Declaration committing to strengthening their cooperation.
This commitment includes addressing illegal exploitation of natural resources, managing natural resources sustainably, tackling climate change impacts, and ensuring maritime security. Leaders also focused on areas with high potential for sustainable development, like the ocean economy (i.e. economic activities related to the ocean).
At the 1st annual EU-African Union Ministerial meeting in 2022, ocean governance emerged as a crucial area for stronger cooperation between Africa and Europe.
Its specific objectives include
- supporting the sustainable development of natural resources and promoting good governance practices
- helping African countries meet international climate and ocean ambitions
- making sure there is enough food by developing sustainable and safe fishery and aquaculture sectors
- creating business opportunities people involved in the blue economy, in Africa and in the EU
- improving maritime security along Africa’s coast.
The EU has signed sustainable fisheries partnership agreements (SFPAs) with 15 African countries. These agreements cover the West African coast and the Indian Ocean. They help to build up scientific and fisheries surveillance capacities and support the development of blue economies locally. To support their future improvement, an assessment has been carried out.
The EU has a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) and is working with African countries, mainly on the West coast but also in the Indian Ocean. The EU also fights IUU fishing through cooperation with the European Fisheries Control Agency which implements the EU-funded project PESCAO in West Africa and cooperation with the EU Naval Force in the Indian Ocean, with a particular focus on Somalia.
Cooperation at regional level
The EU is active in the regional fisheries management organisations off the coasts of Africa
- the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
- the South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)
- the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
- the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)
- the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
These organisations set conservation and management measures, improve monitoring and control of fisheries and support the scientific work to sustainably manage the region’s fish stocks. The EU dedicates some funds to support African participation in RFMOs, ensuring the attendance of some African delegations to meetings of the Commission or scientific committees. The EU also promotes the blue economy in the Mediterranean (WestMed Initiative) and the EU's outermost regions adjacent to the African continent.
The EU is working to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, the Horn of Africa, and the Indian Ocean.
Many EU-funded fisheries programmes are regional because fisheries issues often cross borders and need regional solutions. See for instance: PESCAO - Improved regional fisheries governance in West Africa; TRUEFISH – Fish farming in Lake Victoria and ECOFISH in the Indian Ocean.
Cooperation at continental level
In 2023, based on the outcomes of a feasibility study, the European Commission set up an Africa-Europe Ocean Strategic group to help the two continents to work together on ocean issues. This group is run by the Africa-Europe Foundation and funded by the European Commission (European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund).
The European Union organises events to connect African entrepreneurs with investors in the blue economy. The first edition took place in Seychelles in September 2022.
The EU funds development cooperation projects with developing countries in the fisheries sector. The projects focus on aquaculture, marine capture fisheries and inland capture fisheries. Overall Africa is the main recipient of EU funds for fisheries and aquaculture, receiving about €200 million.
The European Commission is working to implement the actions set out in the EU Comprehensive Strategy towards Africa and the commitments jointly taken with the African Union. It will work at bilateral, regional and continent levels.
- The adoption of some ocean regional programmes under the NDICI-Regional Indicative Programme for sub-Saharan Africa. €180 million has been allocated for five regional ocean programmes under preparation.
- Marine Regions Forum, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 7-9 November 2023
- The Union for the Mediterranean Stakeholder Conference, Athens, Greece, 28-29 February 2024
- The second edition of BlueInvest Africa, Kenya, 2024.
BlueInvest Africa 2022
The BlueInvest Africa 2022 closed its doors in the Seychelles last week. Protection of the oceans, regulation of maritime activities such as fishing are some of the measures discussed at this forum to make the blue economy a real lever for development in Africa.
Euronews Ocean: How Europe-supported projects are reducing illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.
The ample fish stocks of the Western Indian Ocean provide livelihoods to coastal communities. But this hard-to-control area has become a hotspot for illegal fishing that's now endangering the marine ecosystem.
Euronews Ocean: Fish are vital to Seychelles residents - but "boats from far and wide" are a growing threat
Seychelles is facing a growing tide of illegal fishing: at least six foreign vessels, mainly from India and Sri Lanka, have been caught here fishing without licence since the beginning of the year.
Euronews Ocean: EU and Africa: A partnership for sustainable fisheries
In this episode, Ocean explores so-called sustainable fisheries partnership agreements. Deals between the EU and third countries ultimately designed to make fishing practices more sustainable and boost economic growth.
Euronews Ocean: Fighting illegal fishing: the deal helping to close 'the black hole in the sea'
West Africa has been called "the black hole in the sea" due to the amount of illegal fishing that takes place there. A deal between the EU and Ivory Coast aims to significantly reduce that. To find out more, Ocean spoke to the EU's ambassador to the country.