At the heart of regional cooperation in Maputo – empowering the SADC MCSCC

By Stop Illegal Fishing:24th Nov, 2023:

Stop Illegal Fishing visited the SADC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (MCSCC) in Maputo on 20-21 November 2023 to work with the staff of the Centre. After the Charter for the establishment of the MCSCC came into force in April 2023, priority is now on building capacity to fulfil the role and functions of the MCSCC.

In a fully equipped room with computers and large screen, the MCSCC already has significant assets to conduct monitoring of the region’s waters. The MCSCC also has access to powerful remote technology monitoring tools, including Seavision and Starboard. With this, the MCSCC has the capacity to observe all the region’s waters and provide valuable intelligence to SADC Member States in case of suspicious vessel activity.

With the entry into force of the MCSCC Charter in April 2023, the MCSCC is now empowered to fulfil its mission to coordinate regional cooperation for the protection of the region’s fisheries. Today, focus is on strengthening its human capacity, through trainings and continuous coaching, which will be conducted by Stop Illegal Fishing and its partner TMT in person and remotely.

The MCSCC is instrumental to successful regional cooperation. Even before the entry into force of the Charter, the team provided SADC Member States with rapid information and intelligence reports on demand.

To support this dynamic, SADC Member States and the MCSCC host country Mozambique now have the responsibility to ensure that the MCSCC has the capacity to operate successfully on the human, institutional and infrastructure level. Today, the current MCSCC team consists of two officers seconded by Mozambique, which is insufficient considering the scope of the responsibilities of the Centre. More staff from Mozambique and other SADC contracting parties to the MCSCC will be necessary to capacitate the MCSCC. Secondment of personnel within the Centre is also an asset for SADC Member States, enabling them representation and improved cooperation. The secondment of personnel will be discussed in December with the MCSCC Task Force.

This commitment of SADC Member States in the successful operation of the MCSCC must also be reflected in their efforts to fulfil the commitment to share information on fisheries activities in their waters, as set in the 2001 Protocol of Fisheries and in the 2017 MCSCC Charter. Since the signing of the Protocol of Fisheries, the SADC contracting parties have understood that sharing such information is central to efforts to coordinate measures against IUU fishing. Once more, the MCSCC has called on all MCSCC contracting parties to share the list of fishing vessels operating in their waters. This is a first step towards the setting-up of a regional vessel register, one of the central functions of the MCSCC.

Coaching of the MCSCC staff will continue, notably to support efficient information-sharing amongst countries, and draw lessons learnt on the intelligence collected for more effective collective action against IUU fishing. The technical team is committed to help SADC countries live up to their ambitions to combat IUU fishing, working towards a common future.

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One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.

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