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Fishermen in the Congo

Significant grant will support sustainable fisheries

An important project to protect fish stocks in the Republic of Congo will be able to extend its work thanks to a grant from the Waterloo Foundation.

Since 2013 University of Exeter researchers have been working on the Congo Marine programme, a partnership with Government agencies and local NGOs to improve the sustainability of local fish stocks.

This new grant will help researchers to better understand the drivers of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Republic of Congo. Using these findings to improve monitoring and surveillance they will be able to reduce the prevalence of IUU fishing, halting the decline of fish stocks that the local community rely on and reducing the negative economic impacts of this activity on artisanal fishing communities.

The Republic of Congo is a globally important region for marine biodiversity and hosts significant natural resources with potential to support poverty alleviation, food security and local livelihoods. However, a lack of spatial, social and economic information about the marine environment has hindered previous efforts to support the creation of marine protected areas; promote sustainable resource use and fisheries management; and regulate petrochemical related activities all of which play an important role in supporting the national and local economies in this region.

Research Fellow, Dr Kristian Metcalfe, who has been running projects in Congo for five years, said: “The Republic of Congo has significant natural resources with potential for poverty alleviation. However, whilst there has been a lot of effort put into achieving sustainable livelihoods from the land, marine biodiversity has been neglected.

“This programme will support key stakeholders in the region to identify priority areas for conservation and develop a marine protected area that minimises impact on economically important sectors, while also supporting marine ecosystems.”

Professor Brendan Godley, Director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, and lead on the interdisciplinary #ExeterMarine initiative, said: “This funding will help us to produce and implement a plan of action for addressing IUU fishing and supporting marine conservation in the Republic of Congo.

“It will allow us to develop the first electronic vessel register and infraction database for the region; to map industrial fishing activity in order to develop an effective monitoring, control and surveillance system; and to evaluate the impact of this system on fish stocks and local communities.”

The Waterloo Foundation is an independent grant-making Foundation. Through its Environment Fund the Foundation supports projects which counter damage to the environment, especially human-caused effects, through increasing marine fish stocks and protecting tropical rain forests.

Date: 3 May 2018

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