Presentation of CAOPA

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How we created the CAOPA?

Meeting of the initiators

Since 1999, small-scale fishing organizations from Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea have forged links through various meetings organized by CFFA and ICSF.
The creation of the African Confederation of Artisanal Fishing Organizations is an initiative of the artisanal fisheries professionals themselves, by members of three countries fishing organizations: Mauritania, Senegal, and Guinea Conakry, which are respectively the National Fisheries Federation (FNP), the National Inter-professionnal Council of Fishworkers in Senegal (CONIPAS), and the National Fishers Union of Guinea (UNPAG).
The idea came up during a meeting held in 2006 in Nouadhibou (Mauritania), where the main theme was the necessary dialogue between the small-scale fishing communities and the media:

  • This meeting led to the creation of the West Africa Network of Journalists for Responsible Fisheries (REJOPRAO), who later became a privileged partner of the CAOPA. The idea of bringing together professionals, men and women, from African artisanal fisheries was further reflected upon in 2007 in Dakar. The Dakar workshop set up the premises of a wider group of African artisanal fishing professional organisations, launching an appeal for the countries which were not yet involved to be brought in.
  • In December 2008, an enlarged meeting of national organizations from nine African countries, – each sending a delegation composed of one man/one woman, was held in Conakry. One of the main recommendations from this meeting was the establishment of an African Confederation of artisanal fishing organisations. A follow-up Committee was established, members from the following countries: Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Senegal.
  • In June 2009, the Follow-up Committee met in Dakar to develop the Charter, the Statutes, and rules of procedure of the future African Confederation of Artisanal Fishing Organisations.
  • In March 2010, the Constitutive General Assembly was held in Banjul, with the presence of professionals from the nine (09) countries participating. Amendments of the statutory instruments were discussed, and finally, the African Confederation of Artisanal Fishing Organizations was born. Senegal was chosen to host its headquarters. The organisation later got its formal recognition by the authorities of Senegal, under Decree No. 0110046/NINT/DGAT/DLA-PA 2013-07-1

A process accompanied by partners

The whole process leading to the creation of the CAOPA benefited from the technical support of the ANCAR, the West Africa Rural Foundation (WARF) and an technical expert having more than 40 years’experience in fisheries management and administration, as well as in the financing of small scale fisheries projects. Constant technical and financial support were also provided by the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA), the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Bread for the World/Brot für Die Welt (BFW), the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), and the Regional Partnership for the Conservation of the Coastal Marine Zone in West Africa (PRCM)
See the list of our partners
Implementation of the FAO voluntary guidelines for sustainable small scale fisheries
In the context of the implementation of these directives to ensure sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security and the eradication of poverty, taking into account the central role of women in fisheries (processing, marketing of fish, funding of the fishing trips, etc.), the CAOPA made proposals for consideration by the FAO in the interest of the artisanal fishing communities.
In November 2012, a conference was held in Côte d’Ivoire on the theme “Improving the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security: the role of women”. CAOPA, in partnership with ICSF, followed this conference by a day of discussions on “Women in African small scale fisheries: West Africa fish trade issues». The workshop allowed women to make robust proposals for taking account of their concerns in the context of the FAO international guidelines to ensure a sustainable small-scale fisheries (see report for proposals).

The guidelines recognize that many small-scale fishing communities are located in areas prone to natural disasters, and that climate change increases the intensity and frequency of such disasters, suggesting that disaster risk management and climate change adaptation policies must meet the needs of artisanal fishing communities – FAO guidelines can help for this.

In this context, the FAO funded the project for the adaptation of West Africa small scale fishing communities to the impacts of climate change (project 3403-SFW-TCP_FAO ). This project is for the benefit of the CAOPA, which chairs the Steering Committee and is coordinated by WARF with an implementation in three countries in West Africa: Senegal, the Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Participation to the Committee on Fisheries
In 2010 and 2011, the CAOPA participated to the FAO Committee on Fisheries (Rome, Italy) as part of the CFFA delegation. In 2012, CAOPA received, for the first time, the observer status in COFI. At this occasion, CAOPA General Secretary had the honor, in the context of the debate on food security, to make a presentation on “the strategic importance of small pelagics in West Africa and the situation of Senegal’.


September 2017
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