The SmartFish Programme aims at contributing to an increased level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the ESA-IO region through improved capacities for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. The Programme is financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund, with a total financial contribution of Euro 21 million for the first of two implementation phases. The Programme is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in collaboration with the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Other regional institutions involved include the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and regional fisheries management organizations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Southwest Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), and the Lake Tanganyika Fisheries Organization (LTFO). The first phase of the Programme was implemented over a period of 31 months (March 2011- September 2013).
Fisheries are one of the most significant renewable resources that ESA-IO countries have for food security, livelihoods and economic growth based on sustainable resources management plans and, there is significant potential for value-added production. As population in these countries continues to grow, the benefits that these resources should provide in the future, will require a balance of the increasing demands on fisheries with the capacity of oceanic, coastal and freshwater fish stocks, able to sustain those harvests. During the European Partnership Agreement negotiation in 2007-2008, the EU agreed to support the ESA-IO region in improving regional capacities for fisheries development and management. In 2009 the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Commission endorsed a Fisheries Strategy to ensure the long term sustainable development of the fishing sector. At the same time the Ministerial Councils of SADC, EAC and the ESA-IO region endorsed specific fisheries chapters in their Interim Economic Partnership Agreements.
The Programme for the Implementation of a Regional Fisheries Strategy for the ESA-IO region (IRFS-SmartFish) aims to harmonize the region’s strategies and is in agreement with the SADC/COMESA/EAC Tripartite Summit decision to strengthen regional integration, and in line with the 2009 resolution of the Fisheries Ministers of the ACP countries.
The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to an increased level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the ESA-IO region through the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. The ultimate beneficiaries of the Programme will be the fishermen, coastal communities and wider populations of the ACP States of the ESA-IO region covered by the 10th EDF Regional Indicative Program. It is furthermore expected that diverse stakeholder groups will draw specific direct and indirect benefits from the SmartFish Programme. The Programme aims at achieving five main results as described below. These relates to fisheries development and management; fisheries governance; monitoring, control and surveillance; fish trade and food security.