FCWC launch Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre

By Stop Illegal Fishing:13th May, 2021: West Africa Task Force

A new Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC) aimed at combating illegal fishing in West Africa, was launched by the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) on May 12 2021.

The FCWC region is home to important fisheries that provide much needed food, nutrition, employment, and income to the region. As a net importer of fish and fisheries products the countries of the FCWC also deal with high volumes of fish being transported, transhipped, landed, processed, and traded through their exclusive economic zones, ports and borders. Ensuring the legality and sustainability of the fish and the related operations is central to the RMCSC mandate.

The RMCSC will play a critical role in coordinating and supporting activities and initiatives to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Building on the success of the FCWC West Africa Task Force, established in 2015 to provide a mechanism for information sharing and cooperation between the FCWC members, the RMCSC provides an operational hub for MCS activities. The RMCSC provides a cost-effective mechanism to support operational cooperation, improve communication and build regional capacity to stop illegal fishing. Key activity areas include:

  • Vessel monitoring and analysis to support coordinated efforts of fisheries inspection at port and at sea.
  • Developing a Regional Record of Authorised Fishing Vessels, to maintain an up to date, easy to access list of authorised and IUU listed fishing vessels.
  • Coordinating regional and joint at-sea patrols, to identify vessels operating illegally, without authorisation, or in contravention of national or regional conservation and management measures.
  • Establishing a Regional Observer Programme, to provide first-hand scientific and compliance information.
  • Training and capacity building, to strengthen capacity for MCS.

The launch ceremony was co-chaired by the FCWC Chairperson and Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries for Benin, M. Gaston Dossouhoui; and the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Ghana, H.E Diana Acconcia; in the presence of Ghana’s Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson.

Funding for the RMCS has been provided through the Programme for Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa (PESCAO), a five-year, European Union funded initiative, implemented with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission. The PESCAO project aims to enhance the contribution of fisheries resources, alleviate poverty, and encourage food security. EU Ambassador HE Diana Acconcia said, “The EU is firmly committed to eradicating IUU fishing around the world and is taking strong and structured action towards this goal.”

Seraphin Dedi, Secretary-General of the FCWC commented: “The establishment of our RMCSC fulfils a number of long sought-after goals, including: to improve national and regional capacity in fisheries enforcement; greater information-sharing; to reduce costs to Member States; and to increase oversight of vessel activity to addresses global challenges in combating IUU fishing and related fisheries crimes. The RMCSC’s establishment brings us a step closer to having coordinated approaches to joint action, including patrols for better security in the maritime domain of our region.”

Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu, RMCSC Coordinator stated: “The development of regional vessel monitoring system provides a regional overview of vessel activity for the first time. This will be supported by a number of other activities that will support and empower national MCS officers to take action against IUU.”

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing: “The establishment of the RMCSC is an excellent step forward for the FCWC region. The West Africa and FISH-i Africa Task Forces have demonstrated how effective regional cooperation is in tackling IUU fishing. The RMCSC will build on this solid foundation and will strengthen coordination and efforts to improve ocean governance through combatting IUU fishing.”

Elsa Patria, Stop Illegal Fishing Chairperson, stated: “Stop Illegal Fishing is delighted to have been part of the FCWC journey and looks forward to continued cooperation with the FCWC Secretariat and member States.”

Find out more about the FCWC RMCSC here.

The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) was established in 2007 the FCWC promotes cooperation in fisheries to ensure, though appropriate management, the conservation and optimal utilisation of the living marine resources in the waters under their jurisdiction of its member States – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo. More information can be found here.

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