At the UN Ocean Conference in June, the member states of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) signed a cooperation agreement to promote sustainable fishing and combat illegal activity. The agreement was approved during the United Nations Oceans Conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. The agreement was signed by the ministers responsible for the sea and fisheries sector of the CPLP, including the Mozambican Minister of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Lídia Cardoso.
The document, to which the Mozambique News Agency (AIM) had access, came into force as of 30 June, although it requires review and internal approval in each member country, to ensure that the implementation is done in a harmonized manner, with the support of other member states.
In an interview with AIM, Manuel Lapão, director of Cooperation in the CPLP, said that the member countries of the organization should have in hand an action plan adapted to the needs and reality of each country in a period not exceeding one year.
"All countries should take the agreement we have just approved so that it can be discussed internally. It is not a binding agreement, but we expect each signatory country to comply with the clauses in the agreement, since they guarantee the safeguarding of the ecosystem, particularly the marine spaces, of these same countries."
One of the clauses of the agreement refers to the need for "national legal and administrative measures, including terms and conditions for the granting of fishing licenses and their implementation" and a "regime under which aquatic ecosystems may be exploited".
It also calls for "monitoring and supervision of fishing and related activities through inspection operations to ensure compliance with control measures."
Lapão acknowledges that taking concrete action measures requires money. However, this is not a cause for concern as the CPLP knows where to mobilize the resources needed to implement the agreement at the level of the community countries.
"We will mobilize FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the World Bank, etc., but it is necessary that each member country shows that it is committed to implementing the Action Plan that will come out of this agreement," he said.
He warned that in case of non-compliance the organization will give priority to the countries that are truly engaged in the implementation of the agreement. This means that countries that do not express interest may lose their right to be given priority because they are neglecting its implementation.
In light of the agreement, countries with a more robust monitoring structure and more advanced capacity building will be expected to help other comparatively lagging members. There will also be a request for international experts to consolidate knowledge and the use of modern technologies.
With more than 2,700 kilometers of coastline, Mozambique still faces enormous challenges in controlling its extensive coastline, and thus continues to be a victim of illegal exploitation of its marine resources.
This story was produced as part of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference Fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch). It was originally published in Portuguese by Mozambique News Agency on 30 June 2022. It has been translated to English and lightly edited for length and clarity.
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