WASHINGTON, February 27, 2015 – The World Bank Group’s (WBG) Board of Executive Directors today approved a total of US$75.5 million to improve the management of fisheries and increase the economic benefits from fishing-related activities for families living in the coastal communities of the South West Indian Ocean region.
The First South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (SWIOFish1) will help improve regional cooperation for the nine African countries that border the waters of the South West Indian Ocean.
“Fisheries are a key contributor to food security, nutrition and job creation for rural coastal populations of the South West Indian Ocean, who are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the region,” said Colin Bruce, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for the Africa Region. “Promoting sustainable use of fisheries, linking smaller operators to new value chains and improving regional cooperation over shared resources will boost shared prosperity in these countries and the entire region.”
The coastal populations of the South West Indian Ocean region suffer from challenges such as too little economic growth, hunger, poverty and exposure to climate change impacts. Fish stocks in the region are increasingly facing risks of overexploitation or depletion from overfishing by industrial vessels and artisanal fishers.
The project will initiate regional discussions and cooperation to develop a regional fisheries management program focusing on reducing pressure on the fishing ecosystems and helping countries address shared challenges. Safeguarding fish resource productivity and developing the value chain for fish production will expand the fishers’ livelihoods as a step towards reducing poverty.
Financed by $75.5 million from the International Development Association (IDA)*, the WBG’s fund for the poorest, and $15.5 in co-financing trust funds form the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project will support regional coordination and cooperation to improve the management and sustainable development of fisheries in the South West Indian Ocean and will benefit the countries in the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Yemen and Maldives.
Three countries in the region, Comoros, Mozambique, and Tanzania have already taken steps to develop strategies and institutions to improve fisheries management and marine health through other World Bank projects. To leverage these previous investments Comoros will receive $13 million, Mozambique will receive $37 million and Tanzania will receive $36 million to strengthen country-wide institutions and activities, improve fishers’ livelihoods, expand the regional business climate and increase private sector investment in the fishing industry.
“Overfishing, including from uncontrolled small-scale fishing, progressively undermines the resource base upon which coastal communities depend,” said World Bank Task Team Leader Xavier F. P. Vincent. “The South West Indian Ocean marine fisheries are part of a larger marine ecosystem shared by all countries of the region. Today’s project will support regional coordination among the countries that border the South West Indian Ocean, improve the health and sustainability of the fisheries.”