Many countries in Africa are starting to turn the corner economically.  With global economic powers looking for new sources of everything from minerals to food products, Africa has attracted heaps of investment in recent years.  But the effects are not necessarily benefiting everyone in Africa, and there is mounting concern that many will not share in the riches.

One sector where African countries have a disadvantage is fishing.  Africans lack the massive boats and trawlers that scour international waters.  Local fisherman generally are limited to small boats that can only go a few miles offshore.  As the global demand for fish from anywhere continues to spike--and has become more difficult to source--fishermen in nations like Senegal (its capital, Dakar, is picture here; click to expand) and Ghana are finding that they cannot compete with their international competitors.  Basic protein needs, therefore, fall to the wayside as nations with far more affluent mouths to feed scrape the ocean floors.  Now an economist suggests that such nations tax commercial fishing off their coasts in order to preserve fish stocks and maintain local economic development.

Kofi Vondolia, an economist who is finishing his doctoral work at the University of Gothenburg, suggests that the United Nations has not done enough to regulate fishing fleets off the shores of Africa.  Current protocol allows international fishing operations to cull “surplus” fish from zones that are further out to see, but the results have been depleted fish for local populations.  Vondolia points out that in Ghana, for example, that smaller-scale fishing fleets are seeing local fish stocks decline as larger fleets consume what the UN assumed was plentiful supplies of fish.

To that end, Vondolia created an economic model that calculates taxes that African governments can impose on foreign fishing vessels and companies that fish off their shores.  Currently current statistics do not account for the fish that move closer to the shores of countries along the Atlantic and Gulf of Guinea.  Therefore, a tax or duty could be calculated and operated in numerous ways:  grow revenues for a country while discouraging offshore fishing; factor in the number of far-flung offshore fish as opposed those closer to these nations’ coasts; base a levy on the fish reproduction rate; account for costs of harvesting; and ascertain the social discounting rate.  As Vondolia was quoted in Science Daily:

The fees foreign trawlers pay for offshore fishing at present are very low in comparison to our calculations. It is unlikely that the current level of charges lead to the highest possible welfare for the countries with fishing zones in which foreign vessels are fishing.

The big questions is whether a tax can be enforced, and whether the funds, if collected, would actually benefit the people that such a levy is purporting to help.  Regardless of what the outcomes will be, the question of overfishing is another problem Africa, the last frontier for natural resources, will face as other countries seek to exploit its riches.

Published earlier this morning on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.