FISH-i Africa experiences presented at Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop

By Stop Illegal Fishing:6th Jun, 2019: FISH-i Africa

The Sixth Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW), organised by the International MCS Network in partnership with Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, provided an international platform for discussion on the challenges and benefits of global cooperation between flag, coastal, port and market States for effective enforcement of international and domestic law.

Drawing on FISH-i Africa investigations in the Western Indian Ocean, Stop illegal Fishing Coordinator Per Erik Bergh demonstrated the growing need for regional and international collaboration and cooperation to deal with the global reach of illegal fishing and of the criminal networks behind it. He commented, “With expectations in developing countries for blue economic growth driving increased fleet development and access agreements, and with the geopolitical landscape in turmoil the need for, and challenges in achieving compliance have never been greater.”

The key monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) challenges identified by FISH-i Africa include the difficulties in achieving national interagency cooperation; complex and overlapping reporting requirements; competing agencies, organisations, initiatives and authorities; opaque ownership of companies and vessels; corruption; the lack of at-sea enforcement capacity; and the use of flags of convenience and ports of non-compliance by illegal operators to getaway with their crimes.

The development of FISH-i Africa from a regional cooperation of five countries in 2012 to its current membership of eight, with strong links to flag States and regional and international organisations and proposed integration into the Southern African Development Community MCS Coordination Centre, demonstrate the value placed on cooperation and information and intelligence sharing.

Commenting on the success of FISH-i Per Erik Bergh stated, “FISH-i Africa has demonstrated how a low-cost solution can be effective. The Task Force has focussed on building trust between the members, this is essential to facilitate communication and to establish the systematic information sharing that has been so important to identifying illegal fishing in the region. It is gratifying to see elements of the FISH-i model being adopted and explored in other regions, and offers real hope for lasting change.”

 

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