FISH-i Africa Task Force meets in Mozambique

By Stop Illegal Fishing:7th Jun, 2019: Event Coverage · FISH-i Africa

The FISH-i Africa Task Force met in Maputo, Mozambique on May 21st 2019, to share information and intelligence on fishing vessels of interest in the region. FISH-i Africa has spearheaded the understanding of the value of regional cooperation and information sharing amongst neighbouring coastal States on fisheries issues. In addition to the routine sharing of information on licensed and flagged vessels, FISH-i has also coordinated action to block known IUU vessels from the regions’ ports.

 

Plans to introduce systematic controls and checks were discussed. The vessel validation process, ‘VIGILANCE’ aims to stamp out vessel identity fraud, and clamp down on the use of forged and fraudulent documents used to gain licences and fishing authorisations. Commenting on the benefits of this regional initiative Per Erik Bergh, representing Stop Illegal Fishing, said, “As the FISH-i processes are formalised and taken into the SADC processes we are optimistic that this presents a tangible opportunity to address some of the most fundamental facilitators of illegal fishing in the region. In case after case we have seen how illegal operators use forged documents, or share vessel identities in an attempt to avoid paying fees, or to avoid penalties once they have been caught.”

 

The Task Force members considered the status of the three key international agreements utilised to stop illegal fishing, ensure safety and prevent modern day slavery. The Port State Measures Agreement of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Maritime Organization’s Cape Town Agreement, and the Work in Fishing Convention of the International Labor Organization work together to ensure appropriate checks are made to protect people and the environment.

 

With significant numbers of foreign flagged vessels operating in the Western Indian Ocean developing cooperation and information exchange between the FISH-i Task Force and significant flag States has become a priority for the region. Elsa Patria, Stop Illegal Fishing Chairperson said, “Increasing the understanding between coastal, flag and port States is going to bring real benefits to us all, allowing us to act faster, and in cooperation against illegal fishing.”

 

The meeting was held as part of the Joint Meeting of the SADC-FISH-i Africa Task Force on IUU Fishing. The meeting was organised and coordinated by a combined team including the SADC Secretariat, the Government of Mozambique, Stop Illegal Fishing and WWF SEWOH – SWIO Program. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the Roadmap to operationalize FISH-i Africa under the auspices of the SADC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (RMCSCC).

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