FCWC 14th Session of the Conference of Ministers – fisheries management for a sustainable blue economy

By Stop Illegal Fishing:18th Jan, 2023: West Africa Task Force

The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) 14th Session of the Conference of Ministers took place in Accra, Ghana on 11-13 January 2023.  The Conference is held annually to provide guidance on relevant issues and developments.  The Conference of Ministers is the supreme body of the FCWC comprising the Minister responsible for fisheries for each Member State.

The first two days was a technical meeting to discuss and prepare the issues for the Ministers who discussed and provided guidance on several relevant issues such as on-going projects and progress, development and  implementation of shared fisheries management plans, improved fisheries governance, implementation of the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) including cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to reduce abuse of fishing vessel crews, wider regional cooperation with organisations such as The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) as well as combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through various tools and mechanisms.

Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) was participating in the meeting as a technical partner in the West African Task Force (WATF).  This programme facilitated by the FCWC and supported by TM Tracking and SIF is supporting strengthening regional information sharing and cooperation between countries, strengthening cooperation between agencies at the national level, and sharing of fisheries intelligence exchange between the Task Force members and technical partners to spur enforcement actions The WATF is financially supported by the Norwegian Development Agency Norad.

The Secretary General, Mr. Seraphin Dedi Nadje said in his opening statement: “The fisheries sector is paramount when we look at the investments made in the region – and it represents a huge contribution to our GDP.  Sadly, we see a drastic decline in catches and to our GDP due to the impact on our environment caused by climate change, IUU fishing and pollution.  We can change this by truly supporting regional cooperation and implementing international and regional policy and legal frameworks.  Only then, will we achieve blue growth”.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Ms Ingrid Mollestad stated that FCWC plays a key role to raise awareness about IUU fishing and fisheries crime in the region with support from the long-lasting Norwegian financial support. However, there still is a lot of work to be done before the region reaches sustainable development goal (SDG) target 14 – life below water – and Norway will continue to support and be a partner to FCWC for years to come.

SIF coordinator Mr. Per Erik Bergh noted that “The entry point to reduce IUU fishing, labour abuse and safety infringements would be to ensure implementation of the PSMA.  The wider implementation of port controls would allow member countries to conduct more efficient interagency inspections of fishing vessels in port allowing for expertise to address all the areas related to fair, safe and sustainable fisheries.  Increased political support for implementation of the PSMA is needed to prevent illegal fish from being landed in FCWC member State’s ports”.

The FCWC is a regional fisheries organisation with a membership of six West African countries: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo. The FCWC was established in 2007 to facilitate cooperation in fisheries management among the member countries. The countries have several shared fish stocks and identify a need for cooperation and shared management of these resources.

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