Announcement Archive

Report on Sustainable Fishery and Natural Resource Management Seminar

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center

Liberian Fishing
Sachiko Kondo / World Bank

TICAD V logo

“Sustainable Fishery and Natural Resource Management”, a knowledge-sharing videoconference seminar jointly hosted by the World Bank Tokyo Office, Liberia Office, Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Himi City Tourism Association was held on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

The seminar connected three locations, Tokyo, Himi, Toyama Prefecture, Japan and Monrovia, Liberia by making use of an innovative technical arrangement to establish a live videoconference connection among multiple facilities with different technical capabilities. It was hosted as an official partner activity for the upcoming 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which will be held in Yokohama, Japan in June 2013. During TICAD V, African leaders and development partners including the World Bank will engage in policy dialogues centered around three major themes; Robust and Sustainable Economy, Inclusive and Resilient Society, and Peace and Stability. 

Underpinned by these themes, the seminar on March 27 was designed to bring together: trainees from seven francophone African countries who had come to Himi to undergo sustainable fishery training offered by JICA; a Japanese Word Bank expert working on fishery and natural resource management in Liberia; and a Japanese expert on set-net fishing method, as well as the audience in Tokyo to share opinions and exchange knowledge via a live video conference connection.

“Sharing experiences of international organizations from the viewpoint of fishery is a meaningful exercise for further development of Africa’s economy and for the future of cooperation between African states and Japan,” said Kazushige Taniguchi, Special Representative of the World Bank Tokyo Office. After his opening remarks, the video conference kicked off.

The city of Himi, where the 12 trainees from Africa were staying for their fishery technology training is home to the “Etchu” set-net fishing technique, recognized as an environmentally- friendly fishing technique. What did the trainees learn from the training and what will they take back with them to their home countries? How will the Japanese technique and experience benefit fishery and marine resource management in Africa? Experts from each connection sites shared their knowledge and the trainees talked about their experience in Japan.

Fishing in West Africa and the World Bank’s Support

― Raising morale by tightening regulations and improving natural resource management by fishing communities

Sachiko Kondo who works at the World Bank Liberia office on a fisheries program explained about the regional fishing conditions and practices in Western Africa. Liberia’s coastal line situated where two currents meet is abundant in fishing resources. It stretches 560 km, one of longest in West Africa. The current fish hauls compared to those prior to the close of the civil war in 2003 is merely one tenth. If the haul recovers to pre-war levels, it is expected to make a significant contribution to the country’s overall recovery efforts.

One of the major issues faced by the Liberian fishing communities up until several years ago was the widespread illegal fishing operations, which included commercial vessels exploiting fish stocks. Back then, the people in the fishing communities were experiencing lowered morale due to damages done to their fishing nets. This is when the West African Regional Fisheries Program was launched by support from the World Bank. It centers on three major components; strengthening governance, reduction of illegal fishing, and adding value to the local catch. Around the same time, various monitoring exercises, such as natural resource management, evaluation of coastal erosion, monitoring of illegal fishing vessels along the coast were implemented in the same community, under the Community Science Program, a separate program which complemented the fisheries program. 

Since tightening of fishing regulations in 2010, the people in local fishing communities have regained their morale. In the future, it is hoped that a cooperative would be established so that the local fishing communities can better manage their local resources in a sustainable manner. However, as Kondo mentioned, more work needs to be done so that value-added catch can help increase the contribution to the local economy

Fishing in Himi

―Spreading the use of environmentally friendly, non-exhaustive fishing method

Next, Masaaki Kawamukami of Himi City Tourism Association followed by Tadashi Hamaya of the Himi Small Set Net Fishing Council talked about “Etchu set net fishing” and Osamu Baba from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology gave a presentation.

The presentation explained that the set-net fishing method which has been in use for about 400 years is one of the major reasons for the quality catch in Himi. Set-net fishing, which does not exploit marine resources, allows 70% of the fish caught in the net to escape. Although it may seem inefficient, it is an environmentally-sound way to fish because it is not resource-depleting; it only hauls 30% of the catch, leaving the remaining 70% for the following year’s harvest.

Over the course of 400 years, the number of set-nets in existence today has been adjusted to match the volume of the available fish stock. The fishing community survived by reaping wealth by waiting for fish that come to spawn in the local water. The Etchu set-net fishing method was passed on to the people over generations and became recognized as a traditional fishing method that can be traced back in history. Although the types of fishing that involve chasing a school of fish in deep water may seem more efficient, it creates future limitations on the survival of the local population. For this reason, the set-net method, which can be operated locally and at low-cost, is actually more efficient and it is intricately linked with the livelihood of the people in the local community.

JICA Training

―Japan’s fishery and marine resources training and its contribution

Minako Sakurai, Yokohama International Center, JICA outlined the activities and Mitsuo Iinuma of IC-Net Limited, the implementing agency in charge of the Training and Dialogue Program on fishery technology explained about the details of the program.

JICA has been inviting and receiving an estimated 10,000 trainees per year from developing countries under its technical cooperation scheme since 1954. JICA offers country-specific training as well as issue-specific training in which trainees from multiple countries participate to gain skills and expertise in specialized areas such as health and medical care, education, rural development, and fishery.

Based on the fact that 90% of the fishing population in Africa is engaged in artisanal fishery, against a backdrop of growing population and worsening environment in the region, “Sustainable Rural Fisheries Development for French Speaking Central and West African Countries” was launched in 2009. This was also the time that overfishing and overexploitation of marine resources were seriously threatening the fish supply in the region.

Nationals of the target countries in Africa involved in artisanal fishery and marine resource promotion were selected and invited to undergo training in Japan. Over the course of two months, the trainees visited marine products processing and distribution sites and fishery cooperatives. At the end of the training, they are required to create a detailed action plan so that they can implement what they had learned in Japan once they return home. After a certain period of time, a training advisor will be dispatched to the actual locations in Africa to assess the progress of implementing the action plan.

Voices of African Trainees

― Developing their local fishery community

The following are comments made during the videoconference seminar by the trainees. Of the 12 participants, 7 trainees representing 7 different African states talked about their experience in Japan and of the challenges faced by the fishery industry in their home country. 

Trainee from Senegal
“Upon completion of the training, I would like to introduce a fishing method like the one in Himi in my own country.”

Trainee from Benin

“Although Benin has many fishing villages, the perspective of developing sustainable fishery is not given high importance, so I learned a lot from Himi’s long-established sustainable fishing method. I also learned that by creating an artificial fishing ground, the fish start to gather there and grow in numbers and reproduce there. I want to promote what I learned in Japan in my home country.

Trainee from Mauritania

“With respect to fishing method, fishing tools, and fishery management, I learned that marine resources were used efficiently. I want to use the Japanese fisheries cooperative as a model and implement it in my home country.”

Trainee from Tunisia

“Currently in Tunisia, overfishing by trawlers is widespread, so I learned a lot from mechanisms and measures taken by the Japanese government and fisheries cooperatives.

Trainee from Cameroon

“The way fishing practice should be. I learned that it should be acceptable to society, and good to the environment.”

Trainee from Madagascar

“I was able to deepen my knowledge of rural fishery development. I learned about resource management and sustainable fishery; how the Japanese worked hard over many years to arrive where they are now. It is our role to disseminate and spread what we learned in Japan after we go back to our home countries. I want to work hand in hand with my colleagues in a way that suits our circumstances.”


With a 9-hour time difference, West Africa and Japan are almost half way around the world from each other. Participants in Tokyo could realize despite the geographical distance, how closely connected Japan and Africa are through international cooperation. Through a live videoconference connection, they learned about the needs in West Africa and the various development schemes extended to the region by the international community, and witnessed the African trainees in Himi give testimonials about their experience and training. The participants were eager to ask questions just as the speakers were eager to answer and share their views; the Q&A session had gone over the allotted time and by the end of the session, the participants across different connection sites, all sharing their passion about developing fisheries in Africa, seemed to have bonded. It felt as if everybody at the three connection sites were present in one and the same room.

Innovative Videoconferencing Environment

This live videoconference seminar which connected three locations, TDLC, WB Liberia office, and the fishery center in Himi, was a rather ambitious event from a technical point of view; the fishery center in Himi, where the trainees in Africa were on standby did not have a videoconferencing system.

Prior to the seminar, TDLC had confirmed with counterparts in Himi that although there was no videoconferencing system on-site, a standard laptop, projector, screen, and a simple speaker unit were available for use. In order to connect Himi via a live videoconference with the other locations while keeping costs down to a minimum, TDLC asked the counterpart in Himi to download and install Cisco Jabber, a free videoconferencing system software to a laptop.

On the day of the seminar, Himi accessed TDLC’s videoconference system over a standard, commercial internet line. From there, TDLC’s technician bridged the connection, enabling three different sites, TDLC, Himi, and the WB Liberia office to be connected.

In anticipation of the acoustics needs at the site in Himi, TDLC had arranged to lend out a microphone and a portable sound mixer. To ensure a fail-proof, three-way videoconference, TDLC had also coordinated with Himi and conducted a test connection prior to the event.

As simultaneous interpretation for Japanese and French languages was needed for the event, a PanaGuide transmitter/receiver (simultaneous interpretation equipment) was borrowed from JICA YIC, which enabled seamless communication between the French-speaking trainees and the rest of the participants and speakers.

Diagram showing connectivity

By actively developing innovative ways to apply videoconferencing technology, we can create more opportunities to bring together people in various remote locations who would not have had the chance to join the videoconference due to mobility issues or geographical constraints. We believe that innovative use of technology can contribute to bigger development impact.

The seminar “Sustainable Fishery and Natural Resource Management” showcased the application of information and communication technology (ICT) as an effective tool to reduce distance between people and encourage dialogue that contributes to deepening knowledge and furthering development impact. TDLC endeavors to develop new approaches and deliver creative ICT solutions to further contribute to the field of development.