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African fishing losing billions to foreign subsidies

Spain, France, UK, US and Japan are accused of robbing local African operations of billions of rands.

Spain, France, UK, US and Japan are accused of robbing local African operations of billions of rands. Picture: Freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - The Global Ocean Commission believes subsidies given to the fishing industry by some foreign countries are robbing local African operations of billions of rands.

The organisation's co-chair Trevor Manuel was speaking during the launch of the African Union (AU)'s 2015-2025 decade of African seas and oceans in Addis Ababa on Friday.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about the urgent need to protect the continent's marine heritage.

Manuel said only a handful of nations currently provide fuel subsidies to fishing vessels operating outside their home countries, but none of these are African countries.

The commission named Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan as some of the countries giving fuel subsidies to vessels.

Manuel said African nations should call for an immediate end to this because it's depriving vulnerable fishing communities in Africa of food and livelihoods.

In his speech, Manuel said also urged African countries to fight against illegal fishing on their coastlines.

He said West Africa alone loses the equivalent of about R16 billion a year due to illegal fishing, which often goes hand in hand with other criminal acts such as drug smuggling and human trafficking.