Small-scale fisheries play a vital role for the food security and livelihoods of millions of people globally, and in Africa in particular. Accordingly, the development of sustainable small-scale fisheries is an integral part of the African Union (AU) Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS – 2014); moreover, a 10-Year Action Plan for Small-Scale Fisheries Development in Africa was published in 2017. At the global policy level, the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) represent the first international instrument specifically dedicated to small-scale fisheries and provide a comprehensive framework for states and stakeholders to support them.
A key premise for both the PFRS and SSF Guidelines is the effective participation of smallscale fishers and fishworkers in decision-making and development processes that concern their lives and livelihoods. To make such participation possible, organizations representing small-scale fisheries need organizations that represent them as well as the appropriate processes to give them a seat around the decision-making table. Accordingly, the AU Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) have supported the establishment of non-state actor (NSA) platforms. At the same time, at the global level, a multistakeholder partnership mechanism with an important advisory role for small-scale fisheries actors has been conceived in the context of SSF Guidelines implementation: the SSF Guidelines Global Strategic Framework (SSF-GSF).
To continue building these organizational structures already put in place and to strengthen collaboration between small-scale fisheries actors and African regional organizations, while also linking the regional arena to global processes, a Pan-African Workshop on Strengthening Organizational Structures of Non-state Actors for Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in Africa was held in Kasane, Botswana, on 10–12 July 2019. The workshop was organized by WorldFish and FAO in collaboration with AU-IBAR and hosted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The workshop was attended by some 40 participants, including representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), regional fishery bodies (RFBs), small-scale fisheries (SSF) actor organizations, NSA platforms and other relevant actors.
The main objectives of the workshop were to enhance the functioning of the five subregional NSA platforms in Africa; to develop strategies and recommendations for the establishment of a Pan-African NSA Platform; and to link global and regional processes and investigate how regional representation can be reflected in the SSF-GSF mechanism, in particular its Advisory Group.