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IUU 2To what extent could the control of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing curb food insecurity, promote global environmental governance and economic development?
On 25 September 2015, the 193-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) formally adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. This agenda encapsulated a set of 17 new global goals that are universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world. The goals include: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; ending hunger to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, Seas and marine resources for sustainable development
To achieve these goals, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing averred that public finance and aid would be central to support their implementation; and also money generated from the private sector, through tax reforms, and through a crackdown on illicit financial flows and corruption. A major conference on financing of the SDGs, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015, failed to ease concerns over the lack of sufficient funds to meet the aspirational nature of the goals (the summit failed to produce new ways of acquiring finances to fund the goals or offer ways to transform the international finance system).
Could the control of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing help in achieving these goals? In many parts of the world, marine fisheries have been the desired source of protein and play a crucial role in maintaining food and economic security. With the speeding up of globalization process, the rapid population growth, increase in demand for fish, development of urban markets and introduction of new technologies, there is an expansion of fishing operations. The rapid growth and globalization of the fisheries sector has also transformed fishing patterns. Current trends in the production of global marine fisheries resources have presented an alarming concern for food security and sustainable development. For instance, some of the fishery resources that were previously regarded as inexhaustible have either been depleted or over exploited. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations states that, of the major marine fish stocks or species groups, 52% are fully exploited, 17% are over exploited, 25% are underexploited or moderately exploited, and the remaining 6% are becoming depleted.
The decline in global fisheries resources has been attributed to a number of interrelated factors; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Fish piracy continues to thrive worldwide despite national and international efforts. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which involves all types of fishing vessels, regardless of their registration, size or state of repair affects both territorial and international waters. Illegal fishing is conducted by national or foreign vessels in waters under the jurisdiction of a state, without the permission of the owning State, or in contravention of its laws and regulations. Unreported fishing is when fishing activities have not been reported or have been misreported to the relevant national authority, in contravention with national laws and regulations. Unregulated fishing refers to fishing activities conducted by vessels without nationality, or by those flying the flag of a state not party to that organization. IUU fishing has depleted global fish stokes and undermined efforts towards achieving the principle of intergenerational and intra-generational equity. As IUU fishing is done illegally, the social and economic welfare of those involved in fishing legally is affected negatively.
IUU fishing causes economic, social and environmental problems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, IUU fishing accounts for up to 30% of the total catches in some important fisheries and that catches of particular species could be up to three times the permitted amount. The data suggests that high seas IUU fishing is concentrated on a few high value species, such as Patagonian toothfish and tuna. Unregulated catch has threatened the sustainability of world fish stocks and undermined efforts to manage resources. In terms of social and economic impacts, IUU fishers operate at lower costs thereby gaining an unjust economic advantage over legitimate fishers who also depend on fish to sustain their livelihoods. According to OECD, high seas IUU operators usually exploit fishers from developing countries as many of the crew on IUU vessels come from poor parts of the world. Given that they have few other employment options, they work on IUU vessels for low wages and in extremely poor working and living conditions.
If controlled, legal fishing presents various opportunities: countries that depend on fisheries will be food secure. Availability of adequate and nutritious food presents various advantages-it translates to good health; access to food by household translates to children being well nourished. This increases basic learning capacities of children. Food increases the capacity to concentrate and perform well in school; a food secure household is likely to have higher incomes. This is because food security translates to high performance at places of work and trade in surplus agricultural products and thus higher incomes. Higher incomes provide resources that ensure sustained growth in human development. Households with higher income spend on various sectors such as education and improvement in health which are among the components of human development.
Why does IUU fishing continue to thrive even though it is illegal and presents various disadvantages? Factors that create incentives for IUU fishing include: Insufficient or inefficient enforcement of national and international regulations including low monitoring, control and surveillance capacities and low level of sanction which reduces the cost of risk faced by IUU operators; ineffective flag state control over vessels which allow operators engaged in IUU fishing activities to face reduced operating and risk costs; prevalence of poor economic and social conditions in some countries which reduces the cost of fraud, crew costs, the cost of risk and the costs associated with maintaining appropriate safety and working standards; and incomplete international legal frameworks.
Various international and regional agreements have been adopted to curb IUU. Globally, the International Plan of Action on IUU fishing is mandated for this. Regionally, considering the serious economic, social and environmental problems caused by IUU fishing activities, the OECD’s committee for fisheries, in the Programme of work for 2002-2005 launched a study; “which will provide policy makers with environmental, economic and social arguments in support of measures in relation to IUU fishing activities, Including the FAO International Plan of Action on IUU fishing… ” (FAO fisheries report No.666, 2000). The drawback of these is that there is Insufficient and inefficient enforcement of at both national and international levels.
To resolve this problem, world leaders could do the following; while laws regarding illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing exist, there is Insufficient and inefficient enforcement of at both national and international. This is because these laws and especially the International Plan of Action on IUU fishing are non-binding. In this regard, to improve the effectiveness of these laws, an online network database on fishing should be created. This will be a forum of information exchange allowing for communications and questions between countries and experts on key issues of relevance. This means that the platform will be one stop for national laws, International laws, best practices and information sharing.  With information sharing on the issues of fishing, IUU fishing may significantly reduce.


Like many other African countries, Kenya’s population is exponentially growing. This has a direct impact on the food demands of the country. Kenyans’ staple food is Ugali – also sometimes called sima, sembe or posho. This is a dish of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to a porridge – or dough-like consistency. This meal is eaten throughout the country but not all the country’s 47 counties produce maize. It is only in western Kenya that maize farming has thrived due to the conducive climatic conditions.

maize plantation

maize plantation

The region does not only produce maize but also many other food stuffs. As such, it has been christened the country’s food basket. This region is endowed with the most favorable conditions for agricultural production. The favorable conditions have given rise to relatively high carrying capacity for both human and animal production and a large proportion of the population here is engaged in a wide range of agricultural activities.

Cassava Plantation

Cassava Plantation

In this region, crop production covers a wide range of crops which include both cash and food crops. Besides maize, other crops grown include: sorghum (sorghum bicolor); cassava (manihot esculenta), common beans (phaseolus vulgaris); field peas (pisum sativum); potato (solanum tuberosum); finger millet (Eleusine coracna) and coffee (coffea canephora or Robusta coffee) and bananas (Musa spp).
With all these, the region is truly a food basket of the country.

Esther and Agnes selling farm products

Esther and Agnes selling farm products

As youths, our main impediment towards becoming farmers has been our lack of access to land. I have held onto this thinking until recently when I realized I can actually make a living from agriculture without being a land owner. I see people trade in agricultural products – vegetables, cereals, fruits and many others. With this, they would easily pass for your typical farmer selling his or her produce but as I discovered, that’s not true. They are what I would like to call second class farmers.
Esther and Agnes from Kibera slums belong to this class of “second-class” farmers. But I heard one Swahili speaker call them “Mama Mboga” which loosely translates to mother of vegetables. How can you be the mother of vegetable when you are not a farmer? To them, they believe that their work is to link consumers to the farm; they go to the farms and get to their customers whatever they need from there. They have opened up small shops – christened as “Kibanda”. It is in these shops that they conduct their trade – here, they sell eggs, tomatoes, onions, kales, pepper, cabbages, fruits and all that you can get from the farm.

Asking them how they obtain these products, some of them are farmers and so they get them from their farms but others have farmers who do the supplying. The farmers sell these products to them at slightly lower prices compared to their selling prices on the market. Probing further, I learnt a crate of tomatoes is delivered to them at Ksh4000, and it can fetch up to Ksh 10,000. Its paying to be second class farmers for them.

In their "Kibanda",all types of farm products can be found.

In their “Kibanda”,all types of farm products can be found.

“Farmers are the ones who keep us a live,” says Esther, “If they stop farming then we will be finished,” Adds Agnes. If you ate today, you should therefore thank a farmer. This strengthens the assertion that agriculture is the most important sector with the potential to create jobs and change people’s lives. According to these two ladies, this business is what feeds their families and educates their children. “We don’t have land but still benefit from the fruits of farming” says Agnes.
These women are playing an important role in linking farmers to the markets but still benefiting from the same. You don’t have to be a farmer to play a role in agriculture. Hence the importance of understanding agricultural value chains.

In Kenya, the long rains season is setting in according to the warning by the weatherman and as usual, cases of common cold are expected to rise. As people seek to keep this viral disease at bay, one farmers’ group in Kakamega County has one of the best remedies. These farmers are growing and processing medicinal herbs that ward off common cold, among other ailments. This has attracted both local and international attention.
For the Muliru farmers’ group, it all started in 1996 when farmers turned their vegetable gardens into farms of a medicinal herb that the community has relied on for years to cure the common cold but was then diminishing. This herb, locally known as Mwonyi and scientifically known as Ocimum Kilimandschacum is well-known to communities around Kakamega forest for treatment of symptoms of common cold and measles.
Traditionally, this medicine has been prepared by plucking and boiling the leaves in a pot and then inhaling the vapor to cure the cold. Someone must have seen their struggle and thanks to the International Center for Insect Physiology (ICIPE), The University of Nairobi and The Kenya wildlife service, a research was conducted and better ways of exploiting the herb to benefit both the farmers and the environment were discovered. What followed was mass cultivation of the Ocimum plant and manufacturing value added products.

Balm produced from Ocimum Kilimandschacum

Balm produced from Ocimum Kilimandschacum

The group members contributed money and bought a piece of land to construct a processing plant and offices for their activities that became fully commercial. In 2000, they raised sh160, 000 and borrowed sh850,000 for construction of the processing plant and the offices. As we speak now, over 460 farmers have been engaged not only in Kakamega but also in the neighboring Vihiga County. The group has also learnt to diversify – they are engaging in organic production of vegetables.
Farmers admit the combination is paying off. They get Ksh10 for a kilo of wet Mwonyi herbs while dry ones fetch sh40.At the plant, a distillation machine installed in 2002 is used to extract oil and granules for making balm. Once the oil has been squeezed from the dry and wet leaves, the waste is converted into organic manure, which is then used in the cultivation of their traditional vegetables in a garden adjacent to the plant.
A kilogramme of the produced oil goes for Sh6,555. This sees the farmers selling about 7kg to 10 kg per week which they produce. Before this product is released into the market, it is sent to ICIPE for refining and packaging. Other products produced from Mwonyi and other herbs include Naturerub balm, which are sold in supermarkets and chemists. Actually, the work of these farmers has made them win international awards. This saw the group receive an award of $5000(Sh430,000) .They again bagged another award in the same year worth $5000.
Just like the moon, there are two sides to this story too. Despite these achievements, these farmers experience some challenges. They name high costs of production as the main one. This is exacerbated by lack of electricity on their facility leaving them with the costly option of using gas. This gas costs them up to sh57,000 a month. Also, they are facing competition from imported balm and those from established manufacturers.

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