Between 2008 and 2010, CHEC partnered with the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit to deliver an international programme focussing on marine fisheries management and coastal zone communities within the Commonwealth.
The livelihoods of fishing communities across the globe face serious threats from the increased pressure on fisheries caused by overharvesting and marine pollution. The Commonwealth Fisheries Programme aimed to mobilise Commonwealth nations in sharing knowledge and expertise regarding the management of coastal and marine fisheries, as well as strengthening capacity among coastal communities and raising awareness worldwide.
In particular, the project facilitated research –through regional case studies, study tours and civil society consultations – with the aim of identifying long-term solutions for fisheries management and resilience within coastal communities. Key focusses included strategies for good governance of coastal and marine fisheries, the promotion of trade and market measures to optimise the contribution that fisheries can make to national development and the identification and prevention of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices (IIU).
The programme had a policy-focussed agenda and engaged with UN bodies including the FAO, as well as with country-specific policy work in countries such as Namibia, Sierra Leone and the island nations of the Caribbean and Pacific. Results and outcomes of the programme were reported at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago 2009, and formed the basis for a subsequent CHEC report to the Commonwealth Heads of Government and Civil Society in October 2011. This report sought approval from the Heads of Government and other Commonwealth institutions for a Commonwealth Fisheries Policy with a mandate to support nations of the Commonwealth in addressing challenges such as IUU, over-fishing and the impacts of climate change upon marine and coastal fisheries.