Eleventh FCWC Ministers Conference strengthens regional fisheries cooperation for improved management and control

By Stop Illegal Fishing:14th Dec, 2018:

The eleventh Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) Conference of Ministers was held in Lomé, Togo on 30th November 2018, bringing together Ministers and officials from the six FCWC Member States (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo), as well as representatives from regional, international, and non-governmental organisations.

Opening the meeting, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and 2018 FCWC Chair, commended the FCWC on their success in promoting responsible fisheries and uniting the region in the fight against illegal fishing. Noting the achievements of the West Africa Task Force (WATF), Minister Lokpobiri stated: “The WATF has recorded remarkable successes since it’s initiation as a result of effective cooperation and communication among member states.”

Progress in discussions on the establishment of a regional FCWC vessel monitoring system (VMS) centre was also recognized as providing a significant step in the control of fishing activity and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. 2019 will see the FCWC focus on the theme of ‘maritime security and sustainable fisheries development’. Minister Lokpobiri stressed the central role of FCWC in addressing these challenges, “we can only secure or waters and our fisheries through further strengthening of the partnership and collaboration between member states of the FCWC. We must work together as a block.”

FCWC Secretary General, Mr Seraphin Dedi reviewed the achievements of the FCWC during the course of 2018, commenting, “We have made substantial progress working under the theme ‘investing for growth and sustainability of fisheries in West Africa’, which was marked by the development of plans and strategies aimed at attracting investment in a sector fisheries which aims at sustainable exploitation of resources.” Of particular note is ongoing work to develop an implement the following action plans:

·       FCWC Regional Fisheries Management Plan (RFMP)

·       FCWC Regional Plan of Action to Combat IUU Fishing (RPOA-IUU)

·       FCWC Action Plan of the Strategy to Combat The Illegal Transhipment of Fishery Products

·       FCWC Action plan of the Communication and Visibility Strategy

·       FWCC 2018-2020 Three-Year Action Plan

FCWC Ministers confirmed that Mr Dedi would serve another term of five years as Secretary General, with wide endorsement of his dedication and commitment. Minister Elizabeth Quaye of Ghana said, “I would like to acknowledge the hard work and enthusiasm of Dedi, he has overseen the development of the FCWC and it is now a force to be reckoned with in the sub-region.”

Togo’s Minister of Agriculture, Ouro-Koura Agadazi, and incoming Chair of the FCWC, congratulated the excellent work and firm commitment of the FCWC, which is bringing such positive results. He stated, “I am honoured to take the role as Chair of the FCWC for 2019, the FCWC is very important for our countries, and it is important for us to work together to make our organisation stronger so that it is a force to be reckoned with in the world at large! I would like to extend the thanks of our region to the European Union (EU) and Norway, who have believed in our sub-regional organisation and who continue to support our activities.”

Looking forward to 2019 and the focus on maritime security Dr Amadou Tall, ECOWAS Representative and PESCAO Technical Team leader, commented, “We are all operating under the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy, which provides a holistic maritime policy framework to guide actions and cooperation within the West African region and in line with international agreements, such as the Lomé Charter, which has all the mechanisms for the effective management of the maritime domain.” Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator, commented, “There is increasing engagement between actors in the fisheries and maritime security sectors, reflecting a shift away from traditional trade agendas and a move to the blue economy agenda. By pooling knowledge and resources and working regionally there is real potential to tackle issues such as illegal fishing, trafficking and piracy. Maritime security is necessary to underpin blue growth and safeguard the livelihoods and opportunities of millions of Africans.”

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