The constitution of joint ventures in African fisheries is often based on very limited knowledge of ecosystems, the state of fish resources, or the dynamics of the fisheries sector and coastal communities.
This lack of information, instead of encouraging foreign investors and institutions to be cautious, has often resulted in irresponsible investment. There are countless cases in the history of Africa maritime fisheries, where overfishing due to overinvestment in production facilities ultimately led to a fall in fish resources, business closures and negative impacts for local coastal fisheries with which they competed for access to resources.
In West Africa, foreign private investors, - mainly from China, Korea, EU, Russia-, are often operating under joint ventures. In the last years, such joint ventures have been denounced for their opacity, and, more recently, some of them were denounced for being involved in systematic fraudulent practices, such as the massive under reporting of tonnage by vessels of Chinese origin operating under joint ventures in West Africa.
In the case of the EU, it is to be noted that, in sustainable fisheries partnership agreements signed between EU and African countries (SFPA), an article is now inserted, on ‘Promoting cooperation among economic operators and civil society’, which encourages the setting-up of joint ventures.
In a joint paper, CFFA and its partner CAOPA argue that the implementation of this article requires defining a set of principles to ensure such joint ventures operate in a transparent manner, do not enter in competition with the local artisanal sector, and are in line with the third country sustainable fisheries development objectives.