Knowledge Sharing and Policy Engagement Workshop Report

On 18 September 2018, ACED, LHA and ACWFS brought together over 100 inland fisheries stakeholders in Benin around a knowledge sharing and policy engagement workshop. The objective of the workshop was to improve the uptake of research findings on inland fisheries and food security by policy makers and to strengthen their commitment to support the development of a well-established platform for advancing actions to strengthen the resilience of inland fishing communities in Benin. This report synthesises the outcomes of the workshop and presents perspectives for the inland fisheries sector.

Six key messages from the workshop

The impacts of human activities on the Lac Nokoué-Lagune de Porto-Novo lagoon complex are enormous and visible. The water, fish and banks are significantly polluted by heavy metals (especially lead and mercury), fermentable materials, cans and plastic waste.
There are different perceptions among stakeholders regarding the use of “acadja”, which is the most intensive and productive fishing technique in the lagoon complex. The government authorities are in favour of banning it and destroying the installations already in place on the lake. Researchers and scientists on the issue of inland fisheries management stress that the “acadja” technique is not bad but rather its anarchic development has negative effects on the lagoon complex. As for the fishermen, they call for a better consultation with the stakeholders in order to achieve a more efficient regulation of fishing techniques.
The fishing communities are faced with organisational difficulties, the resurgence of conflicts, the decline in fish catches, food insecurity and illiteracy. Therefore, practical solutions to improve the livelihoods of fishermen and women are formulated as follows: fight against lake pollution by focusing on the sources of pollution, truly apply the texts contained in the framework law on fisheries without political interference, invest in the education of the children of fishing communities, and promote alternative economic activities to fishing such as water hyacinth development, aquaculture and market gardening.
These solutions go beyond individual actions and require the commitment of various actors, particularly public policies, to strengthen the capacities of fishing communities in the long term. To this end, reflections have been initiated on the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform for improving the performance of the inland fisheries sector. ACED will continue to engage stakeholders in the effective implementation of this platform.
The implementation of large-scale solutions that mobilise all stakeholders requires the commitment of policy makers, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. In addition to supporting the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform, it is recommended that the Ministry plays a leading role in mobilising the resources needed to develop the solutions. In addition to government resources, technical and financial partners such as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which has supported the work of the consortium, can provide important support for the implementation of solutions.
This workshop is the materialisation of ACED’s intervention approach which aims to bridge the gap between action research and policy by promoting the use of scientific evidence and endogenous knowledge of stakeholders in the formulation and orientation of development policies and strategies. This approach allows for an open dialogue that takes into account the priorities and perspectives of all stakeholders.

You can download the report at this link.