Africa’s Small-Scale Fisheries Critical To Food Security

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Fish values for more than one-fifth of the protein consumption of African south of the Sahara and produce a livelihood to millions of people.

Africa’s small-scale fisheries play a significant role in global food security and must be continued with greater research and investment, say international and African specialists.

Industry, NGO, government and academic representatives attended Murdoch University’s second Blue Economy Symposium in Tunis last week as part of the Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) 2019 and Murdoch University’s Third Commission, a research investigation focusing on issues of public concern to Africa.

Africa’s Small-Scale Fisheries Critical To Food Security - Brand Spur

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Fish accounts for more than one-fifth of the protein intake of African south of the Sahara and provides a livelihood to millions of people.

Murdoch University Adjunct Professor, Dr Jeremy Prince, who attended the symposium and is contributing to the work the Third Commission in this area, said the collective value of the small scale fisheries of Africa was too big to ignore.

“It is critical that we stabilise and rebuild these fisheries to ensure both food security and the future of the blue economy,” Dr Prince said. “The time to act is now.”

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Discussions at the Tunis symposium provided useful insights and contributions to the fine-tuning of the focus and narrative of the Blue Economy chapter of the Third Commission’s report. A strong emphasis was placed on the need to highlight clear and innovative actions to affect the lasting transformation of the blue economy in Africa.

Participants in the symposium called on all nations and international institutions to recognise the value and economic impact of small-scale fisheries in Africa. Their recommendations included:

  • Increasing investment to allow fishing communities to be more involved in the co-management of fisheries; and
  • Directly engaging with fishing communities to collect and share relevant data regarding the state and economic value of small-scale coastal fisheries.


About the Third Commission

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In keeping with Murdoch University’s commitment to quality research and teaching in public policy at both the national and international levels, Murdoch Commissions are exercises in applied public policy informed by rigorous scholarly research and analytical thinking. They bring together senior practitioners, international experts and thought leaders from Australia and around the world to work on pressing problems and issues of public concern.

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The first Murdoch Commission, “Western Australia and the evolving regional order: challenges and opportunities” published its final report in November 2013 and the second Murdoch Commission, “Food security, trade and partnerships: Towards resilient regional food systems in Asia” released its report in December 2015.

Murdoch’s Third Commission commenced in June of 2018 and is focused on six themes firmly rooted in the agenda for action identified by the Africa Progress Panel (APP) as being in need of more significant research attention, bolder policy innovation, faster implementation on the ground, enhanced political leadership and the conceptualisation and roll out of innovative research solutions.

These themes are:

  • Promoting Equity in the Extractive Industries: Managing the Extractives Industry in a more equitable, transformative and sustainable;
  • Boosting the Blue Economy: Better Monitoring, Governing and Harnessing of the Blue Economy;
  • Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production: Enhancing Sustainable Farming and Food Production and Nutritional Security;
  • Increasing Power and Light: Creating greater and more innovative access to Modern Energy (Electricity and Light) Fast; and
  • Cross-cutting themes of Women & Youth and Climate Change.


An overarching focus of the Third Commission is identifying small scale policy interventions that have the potential to make big impacts. Additionally, it seeks to enhance Murdoch University’s links with Africa in areas of the university’s comparative advantage, including research and innovation expertise, strategic interest and networking capabilities within Australia, in Africa and globally. 

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