As part of the Tunisian national plan that aims to combat illegal fishing, a specific working session, chaired by the Secretary of State for water resources and fisheries, Abdullah Al-Rabahi, was held on Monday 15 April 2019.
The topic discussed during the meeting concerned illegal fishing of bluefin tuna, the reasons that led to the worsening of this phenomenon, its implications, the identification of gaps and the proposal of possible solutions to solve and eliminate them.
Secretary Abdullah Al-Rubahi stated that the violation of the law constitutes a serious threat to our fish heritage, underlining the need to activate regional committees, led by the Governorates and to establish a joint to counter this phenomenon.
The meeting was attended by the Director General of Fisheries and Aquaculture and all the participants of the Red Tunnel and regional agricultural development delegates in Medenine, Gabes and Monastir and representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Trade and the Interior and the Tunisian Union industry and commerce participated in the meeting.
The exceptional charfiya fishing technique, to the island of Kerkennah deserves to be inscribed, by UNESCO, on the list of intangible heritage of humanity. The dossier to obtain this very important recognition was presented to UNESCO on the initiative of the National Institute of Heritage (INP) and the Permanent Delegation of Tunisia.
The charfiya is an ancient fishing technique, whose use dates back to the Punic era.
The name appeared in official documents only around the twenty-seventh century, and exactly in 1670, derives from the Arabic word charaf (nobility) and is linked to the name of the Charfi family (the brothers Ahmed and Ali Charfi), from Sfax, who held the monopoly for the exploitation of maritime state property. In 1772, the Bey of Tunis, Ali Pasha Bin Hussein Bin Ali, takes away this right from the Charfi family, to assign it to the inhabitants of Kerkennah alone.
The charfiya is a labyrinth created by planting in the seabed a large number of palm leaves that create corridors that, thanks to the currents, bring the fish into the capture chambers. Here, the fish find the traps laid by the fishermen in which they remain permanently trapped.
The knowledge related to this unique fishing technique is transmitted from father to son. The realization of the charfiya indeed requires an excellent knowledge of the seabed, and the prevailing currents and winds.
It is usually installed at sea in October and is removed in June, guaranteeing a biological rest period for the fish species being caught.
“Among all the countries in the world, Tunisia will be one of the pioneers in the field of biological agriculture” is what was stated by the Minister of Agriculture, Samir Taieb, at the end of the meeting of the National Commission for Agriculture, which was held in Tunis on 22 March 2019.
Minister Taieb also stated that “Tunisia, today, occupies the 23rd place worldwide for the agricultural area reserved for organic crops”.
In recent years, organic farming in Tunisia has seen a significant increase both in terms of agricultural areas reserved for crops and in terms of incoming.
The total amount of land dedicated to organic farming has increased from almost 216,000 hectares in 2012 to 336 thousand hectares in 2018.
The main organic products for which Tunisia is appreciated all over the world are olives and dates.
The olive oil produced in Tunisia is one of the best in the world so as to deserve the awarding of 16 medals, including 3 gold, 8 silver and 5 bronze, during the 20th edition of the International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition Award 2019, which was held in Los Angeles, from 5 to 7 February 2019.
Today, Tunisian organic oil is exported to 54 international markets, especially in Europe (over 56 thousand tons a year) and the United States (35 thousand tons a year). Tunisia is therefore one of the most important oil exporters in the world, together with Spain and Italy.
On January 23, 2019, in the Jdaria region, a laboratory was held to examine the investment possibilities and to listen to the needs of fishermen and women working in the agricultural sector. The meeting saw the presence of regional directors of the sectors concerned.
Massive was the presence of fishermen and women in the agricultural sector.
Micro-finance and investment aid has been introduced in the fisheries sector. The establishment of a fisheries development plan including all fishermen was also decided. The date of February 5, 2019 is the term for the establishment of temporary authority, under the supervision of the Head of the Department of Finance
Furthermore, the restructuring of the complex dedicated to women employed in the agricultural sector was decided. These works will be carried out in the first quarter of 2019.
A clean-up campaign was organized on 24 January 2019 by fishermen in the fishing port of Zarzis, with the participation of the Zarzis fisheries section, the Municipality of Zarzis, the fishermen’s association and the fishing cooperative society of Médenine .
In addition, further cleaning initiatives are planned that will affect the other ports of Tunisia.
“The General Commission for Mediterranean fisheries will open a sub-regional office in Tunis”, announced on Friday 25 January 2019, Abdallah Sour, General Secretary of the GFCM, during a meeting with the Tunisian Secretary of State, Abdallah Rabhi, in charge for water resources and fishing.
Tunisia welcomed this proposal with a favorable opinion.
The General Commission for Fisheries in the Mediterranean, established in 1949 on the basis of an international agreement, carries out its functions in the promotion of the development, conservation and proper management of resources, the formulation of conservation measures and the promotion of cooperative training projects in the area of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and adjacent waters.
During the meeting, the two leaders decided to cooperate and organize a meeting in Tunis, on the aquaculture sector in Tunisia, with the aim of sharing experiences and knowledge, especially regarding shrimp farming.
“Tunisia’s commitment is directed towards the preservation of fish stocks in the Mediterranean, as required by the Malta Declaration MedFish4Ever“. This was stated by the Tunisian Minister for Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Samir Taieb, during an international seminar, organized in cooperation with the General Directorate of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, for the implementation of the declaration MedFish4Ever.
Minister Samir Taieb urged the implementation of interventions to prevent and minimize environmental pressures and risks on the Mediterranean and the effects on marine ecosystems, fishery resources, agriculture, tourism, fisheries and health.
The attention of the sector is focused on four main axes: the guarantee of a sustainable marine environment, the optimal management of fishery resources and of fishery and aquaculture products, the provision of quality services and the diversification of aquaculture activities.
“Fishing in Tunisia employs about 100,000 people and contributes significantly to trade in food products, in particular with the European Union”, as specified by the Minister.
The declaration of Malta MedFIsh4Ever, signed on March 30, 2017, was born as a response to the state of over-exploitation of the Mediterranean and foresees a ten-year plan of interventions aimed at ensuring the sustainability of fish resources over time, through data and scientific assessments on the state of health of the Mediterranean and fish stocks, the adoption of management plans for the main fisheries, the fight against illegal fishing and support for small-scale fishing.
At the end of October 2018, Tunisia registered significant increases in the export of fish products, both in terms of quantity and economic value.
Exports of fish products, from the beginning of the year until the end of October, were, in fact, 20.945 tons, with an increase of 31,8% compared to the same period of 2017, which translates into economic terms in a increase of 30,32%, with a value of 422,5 million dinars.
The Ministry of Agriculture explained that this increase is mainly attributable to exports of crabs, octopus, canned tuna and shrimps. He also said that Tunisian exports are directed to 47 destinations, including the main ones, in terms of economic value, are Italy (34,9%), Spain (19,1%), Malta (17,9%) and Libya (4,6%).
In particular, crab exports recorded an increase of 417% up to October 2018, from 505 tonnes in 2017 to 2.612 tonnes this year. Tunisia’s crab exports are mainly to Thailand (1.325,5 tonnes), Malaysia (390,6 tonnes), Vietnam (390,6 tonnes) and Italy (255,9 tonnes).
Even sea bream exports recorded a significant increase of 164,8%, reaching 3.088 tons, compared to 1.166 tons in 2017. Sea bream exports generated 43,8 million dinars, compared to 15,2 million dinars in the same period of 2017, an increase of 188%. The main destinations for Tunisian sea bream are Jordan (1.079,7 tons), United Arab Emirates (704 tons), Saudi Arabia (592,2 tons) and Libya (522,8 tons).
Tunisia is ready to co-chair, in 2020, together with Italy, the WestMed initiative, for the sustainable development of the Blue Economy in the western Mediterranean. And what was stated by Samir Taieb, Minister for Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries in Tunisia, during the second ministerial conference of the WestMed initiative held on 3 December in Algeria.
According to Taieb, the ministerial conference, chaired by France and Algeria, in collaboration with the European Commission and the Union for the Mediterranean (UpM) is an opportunity to evaluate the results of the actions undertaken and identify the final meetings to face the challenges of the countries Western Mediterranean and regional services.
The ministerial meeting was preceded by the stakeholder conference on the WestMed initiative, which saw the presence of around 200 experts with the aim of developing concrete and efficient projects in the Mediterranean region.
The participation of ministers was an opportunity to discuss opportunities for bilateral cooperation with Algeria in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, maritime transport, tourism and renewable energy.
The West Med initiative, launched in April 2017, is an initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean region. It groups together, Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia around three main common objectives: a safer maritime space, a secure, smart and resilient blue economy by 2022 and better governance of the sea.
The APIA, the Agency for the promotion of agricultural investments, launched, on Monday 29 October 2018, the Support Program for accreditation to the Green Fund for Climate of the FAO, which will allow APIA to have direct access to funding provided by this Fund.
The criteria required for accreditation are transparency, good management and adoption of a structure that is adaptable to environmental risks related to climate change, according to Bashir Ounissi, Director of Tax and Financial Benefits for the APIA.
“Every institution wishing to obtain accreditation must meet certain conditions, including the involvement of women and men in funded projects, good management and expenditure control,” says Pastel Office Director, Mounir Temmam, who is one of the experts accompanying the Agency in its accreditation project.