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New fishing fund launched to reduce poverty in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya – A region-wide partnership aimed at restoring depleted fisheries and reducing poverty was launched today by the African Union, World Bank, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and WWF.

This partnership includes a commitment of US$60 million from the Global Environment Facility, which is to be matched 3-1 in funds from other donors for a total of approximately US$240 million over the next ten years. The new Sustainable Fishing Investment Fund is the first of its kind, and will focus on sustainable fisheries in the large marine ecosystems of Africa and will work to reduce poverty in coastal communities and curtail overfishing of marine resources.

“We commend the Global Environment Facility for this massive support for fisheries conservation,” said Bill Eichbaum, managing director and vice-president of WWF-US. “We look forward to working with our partners and governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to build healthy marine ecosystems that support coastal communities.”

The funding will be used to assist countries' efforts to better manage their marine fisheries and improve the living conditions of fishing communities. Among the activities eligible for support through the Fund are community-driven management programs that monitor, control and keep surveillance on fisheries and marine protected areas as well as programmes that develop alternative livelihoods to fishing.

“This strategic partnership will support African countries to improve the livelihoods of millions of Africans in the fisheries sector and contribute to a vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa,” said Rosebud Kurwijila, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture of the African Union Commission.

The World Bank, FAO and WWF, through an extensive consultative process with stakeholders, have over the last two years designed the Fund and promoted the partnership with the African Union and coastal countries that support it. The African Union will chair an advisory committee that includes regional fisheries management organizations, which will oversee the Fund and partnership activities.

Fish already make a vital contribution to the food and nutritional security of 200 million Africans and provides income for over 10 million, mostly small-scale fishers, farmers and entrepreneurs engaged in fish production, processing and trade.

“By helping countries build more responsible and sustainable fisheries, this fund will strengthen food security and improve nutrition in the region, benefiting millions of the world's most vulnerable people,” added Ichiro Nomura, head of FAO's Fisheries Department.

In addition, fish have become a leading export commodity for Africa, with an annual export value of US$2.7 billion. To maintain and further enhance the contribution of fisheries to food security and poverty reduction, the new Fund will over the next ten years seek to restore depleted fisheries and significantly improve the livelihoods of coastal communities in Africa.

“The World Bank and Global Environmental Facility are committed to working with the coastal countries in Africa to help improve the livelihoods of rural fishing communities and the health of the fish stocks they depend on,” said Francois Le Gall, lead livestock specialist for the Africa region of the World Bank. “We are looking forward to a long partnership with the AU, FAO and WWF in this effort.”