Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 18:16 UK

Africa moves to stop fish theft

Fishing boats in Sierra Leone
Fishing provides an important source of food around the African continent

African ministers are meeting in Namibia to discuss how to stop illegal and unregulated fishing.

The meeting in the capital, Windhoek, aims to encourage governments in Africa and beyond to register fishing vessels and their activities.

Illegal and unregulated fishing is estimated to cost Africa $1bn (500m) a year in lost revenue.

Conference organisers say it also has grave consequences for local fishing communities and the marine environment.

They hope greater international cooperation will help African countries to control their waters better.

High cost

Many African countries simply do not have patrol boats, and in some states there is a problem of corruption with fishing licences sold illegally, the BBC's World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle reports.

As well as devastating some African fishing communities, the unregulated trade in many cases cost lives as local fishermen in flimsy canoes have had to go further and further out to sea to find a decent catch, he says.

David Agnew of Imperial College in London estimates that Africa may be losing $1bn a year to fishing vessels from countries which have not signed up to the international fishing treaties.

Delegations from seven coastal countries in southern African as well as Kenya and the Seychelles are due to attend, along with representatives from developed countries including the UK, Norway and the EU.

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