Tuna Fisheries within the West Indian Ocean: Is there a Role for COMESA?

16 Pages Posted: 6 May 2015

See all articles by Stephen Mailu

Stephen Mailu

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization

Mathew Ngila

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries - Fisheries Directorate

Andrew Wamukota

Pwani University

Date Written: April 22, 2015


Tuna is an important marine resource and is caught in most of oceans. Certain tuna species in some of the existing stocks are already overfished, while others are fully exploited. The West Indian Ocean stock, composed mostly of skipjack and yellowfin is reported as moderately exploited and hence, requires efforts in order to prevent movement of the stock towards collapse. This paper acts as a short review of information relating to the tuna fishery within the WIO region. Various mechanisms such as those stemming from the UNCLOS are in place and efforts to streamline management of the tuna fishery are ongoing. However, within the WIO tuna fishery, a number of DWFNs are active within the WIO stock while some COMESA member countries such as Comoros have no exports reported in their trading books. Besides, the DWFNs operating in the fishery which have deployed better technology catch and trade more tuna than countries operating a less technical operation.

The paper further utilizes a gravity model in an attempt to clarify whether membership to COMESA as well as other tuna management organizations can improve tuna exports from the WIO. Unlike the bulk of gravity models in trade literature, our approach uses a number of proposed estimation approaches — Poisson Pseudo-Maximum Likelihood Estimator, Heckman Sample Selection Estimator as well as the usual OLS — also used for comparison. Results imply that COMESA membership does not improve tuna exports. The authors conclude that COMESA needs to speed up the development of a marine fisheries policy which can guide investment in the value chain in order to improve the lives of coastal folk and earn revenue. This it can do with the help of resolutions made through established mechanisms e.g. IOTC and Inter-Governmental Organizations such as SWIOFC and other Regional Fisheries Management Organizations. At the national level, support by CSOs can help provide a platform to drive the agenda and include local priorities in policy development. In addition, suggestions are provided on agreements between fisheries authorities and trade partners, recommendations which may strengthen the bargaining position of WIO countries and introduce management decisions based on economic reasoning.

Keywords: Tuna, export, gravity model, poisson, COMESA

Suggested Citation

Mailu, Stephen and Ngila, Mathew and Wamukota, Andrew, Tuna Fisheries within the West Indian Ocean: Is there a Role for COMESA? (April 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2597864 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2597864

Stephen Mailu (Contact Author)

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization ( email )


Mathew Ngila

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries - Fisheries Directorate ( email )


Andrew Wamukota

Pwani University ( email )

PO Box 195

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