The RFIS project played an important role in the development of fisheries management in the SADC region through the collection, collation, dissemination and use of information. The project complemented and supported a number of other SADC regional projects and promoted DFID and SADC policy objectives. The goal of the project was to improve the sustainable utilisation of the SADCs marine fisheries resources that will contribute to the national economies, development objectives and sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities. The mechanism for achieving this was through the provision of timely, relevant, accessible, useable and cost effective information to improve the management of marine fisheries resources in the Southern Africa Region. The beneficiaries of the project included the national fisheries institutions of the SADC coastal Member States, the fishing businesses, coastal communities, fish workers and fish consumers in the region.
The project had five related components: 1. Building artisanal fisheries decision support systems through attachment of two regional artisanal fisheries specialists on the east coast and providing support for community and co-management fisheries management initiatives; 2. Ensuring effective fisheries information exchange by locating a regional coordinator within the SADC Sector Coordinating Unit to plan and upgrade national fisheries information systems; 3. Fisheries training through local courses and the preparation of distance learning materials; 4. Support to regional marine fisheries environmental information systems for the Benguela Current region (Angola/ Namibia/ South Africa) through the multi-donor BENEFIT programme working within the World Bank Large Marine Ecosystem project; 5. Support for fisheries information management systems for other regional organisations to promote the sustainable exploitation of shared marine resources. Some specific examples of the work carried out by the project include:
- The RFIS formulated information management policy was implemented within the BENEFIT Programme and became an integral part of the BENEFIT project cycle. This included the establishment of a metadata directory to catalogue the data sets that had been collected in the region. The Metadata directory was based on XML and Java servelets connecting to a My SQL database that created a fully web enabled method of submitting, searching, retrieving, and management of the metadata
- Development of secured Access database as an information policy tool to monitor the success of transformation policies in South African fisheries
- In Tanzania assistance in data collection, management and use (e.g. sampling systems, record sheets, database development) was provided to various projects (e.g. Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation and Development Programme, Mafia Island Marine Park, Rufiji Environmental Management Project) which lead to a number of the proposed system changes being adopted at that level.
- At a regional level, using experiences from both Tanzania and Mozambique the RFIS team made a presentation “Role of fisheries in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers” to a regional meeting of marine managers and scientists in Maputo in October 2003
- Established two web sites, to promote the work of the Sector Coordinating Unit of SADC and of the BENEFIT Secretariat, and carried out training in the maintenance of web sites.
- Developed a distance learning course on statistics for fisheries staff, including dynamic web based content using Java applets.
- Training courses in Mozambique to provincial-level staff and extensionists on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Community Development with the aim of improving participatory information management with communities, dissemination of information and involvement of communities in decision-making.
- Institutional development
- Fisheries Information Management
- Community management
- Co-management policy development and implementation
- National and regional marine and environmental management
- Regional management of coastal zone