Improving Cameroon’s capacity to fight against IUU fishing
IUU fishing falls under three categories according to the UN FAO (IPOA-IUU). Illegal fishing constitutes fishing and fishing related activities carried out in contravention of national, regional and international laws, Unreported fishing involves the non-reporting, mis-reporting and under-reporting of information on fishing operation and their catches and Unregulated fishing constitutes fishing activities carried out in areas where there are minimal regulations and insufficient management measures.
IUU fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavors to conserve marine biodiversity. Cameroon’s fishery sector is affected by four major threats: IUU fishing, habitat degradation, pollution and climate change.
However, in Cameroon the drivers of IUU fishing are complex as perpetrators often exploit poor governance structures to engage in transshipment at sea, operating under flags of convenience and landing of catches in ports of convenience. Industrial fishers use toxic chemicals and inappropriate fishing net to carryout fishing hence entering into conflict with artisanal fishers. For many years fishermen in Cameroon have felt the effects of overfishing which has led to a reduction of fish stocks and consequently economic loss. The socio-economic impacts of IUU fishing include: conflicts between industrial and artisanal fishermen as the former recurrently violate fishing zones, depletion of fish stocks which leads to a low GDP; the global annual economic value lost to IUU for Cameroon is estimated at about 20 billion Fcfa (US$ 36 million) and the government spends about US$ 165 million yearly on fish imports. Fishing is the main source of income for the fishing communities in Cameroon and some fishing related activities such as boat building and boat repair provide a means of livelihood for many. Most women are mainly involved in fish processing activities such as smoking and packaging but due to the scarcity of fish stocks there is bound to be job loss consequently low employment rate.