Blue Oceans Conference calls for collaboration, transparency and port State measures to address illegal fishing

By Stop Illegal Fishing:20th May, 2019: Event Coverage · West Africa Task Force

Building on the momentum begun by the United Nations Oceans Conference and the recent Nairobi Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, a Blue Oceans Conference was held in Monrovia, Liberia in March 2019. Focussed on the four thematic areas of marine pollution, climate change, sustainable fishing, and the blue economy the conference was jointly organized by the Government of Liberia, the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia, and Conservation International. The conference aimed to create opportunities for African countries and relevant stakeholders to understand the challenges associated with marine governance and sustainable development.

In opening remarks, Sheck Sherif stated,  “The need for urgent for action cannot be overstated. We as African nations must keep up the pressure for international action and to keep these issues at the top of the global agenda.”

Blue Oceans Conference calls for collaboration, transparency and port State measures to address illegal fishingA side-event on the West Africa Task Force (WATF) examined the history and development of the WATF and the processed and experiences of building national, regional and international cooperation in West Africa to combat illegal fishing. Seraphin Dedi, Secretary-General of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) outlined some of the challenges in building regional cooperation, “Developing the WATF has involved operationalizing agreements that have already been made by the FCWC Conference of Ministers. Of course we have experienced challenges in moving beyond political commitment into action, as there was no clear political, legal and technical framework for such kind of cooperation. But gradually with technical support and legal frameworks that have been developed we have been able to establish the West Africa Task Force, that today is our key mechanism to combat illegal fishing.”

The conference concluded with a call to action to scale up marine conservation and biodiversity efforts in West Africa in order to protect coastal communities, improve waste management and strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) efforts. Key recommendations included the need for African countries to become party to and implement the Port State Measures Agreement; lead the move to transparency through the publication of vessel registries, licences, and permits; and, to enhance interagency collaboration.

 

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