Fourth meeting of the Ports Task Force Ghana

By Stop Illegal Fishing:20th Apr, 2021: Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing · West Africa Task Force

The two-day Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG) interagency meeting was held on 14-15 April 2021 in Tema, Ghana. The meeting was coordinated by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD) and supported by Stop Illegal Fishing in collaboration with the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) West Africa Task Force.

The meeting brought together 35 representatives from ten national agencies involved in or relevant to the Ports Task Force Ghana. These included participants from MOFAD, Fisheries Enforcement Unit (FEU), Marine Police (MP), the FCWC, WATF, Ghana Navy (GN), Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA), Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Port Health Services (PHS), National Security (NS), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Food and Drug Authority (FDA), Bureau of National Investigation, and the Attorney General’s Office.

The meeting served as a platform to consult with the involved national agencies on collaborative mechanisms that will allow for effective cooperation in stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and its associated crimes in the country.

The Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA) requires that vessels make an advance request for entry into port (AREP) and submit specific information that enables fisheries authorities and other relevant agencies with information to ascertain whether the vessel has been fishing illegally or engaged in illegal fishing activity. The PTFG discussion focussed on the processing of vessels request for entry into port: information sharing between agencies, the risk assessment process and the development of new tools to support this process.

Progress on the development of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ports and fisheries authorities was reported on: “Formalising the communication and information exchange procedures will bring significant benefits to the ability of Ghana to effectively implement port State measures. Acting quickly to deal with known or suspected IUU vessels is key. To achieve this agencies have to work hand in hand.” Stated Per Erik Bergh.

A ‘vessel history tool’ is under development by Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT) and Global Fishing Watch (GFW) that will provide up to date, easy to access information on vessels’ identity, operational history and recent activities. Presenting at the meeting Yann Yvergniaux, TMT, said, “The Vessel History Tool will arm relevant authorities with the information needed to make a rapid and informed assessment of a vessel’s compliance risk and verify its operations ahead of entry to port, supporting the key decisions on whether to approve or deny access, whether to conduct an inspection, and if they inspect, what to target.”

The PTFG provided positive feedback on the pilot project to incorporate body worn cameras into fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance activities. Developed to provide remote mentoring for in-port inspections the scheme is being widened to develop training material and to collect evidence to support enforcement and prosecution of fisheries offences.

Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and the FCWC WATF supported the meeting technically and financially. While local SIF technical team member Alex Sabah, facilitated the meeting in Tema with administrative support by Vivianne Kotoub for FCWC. Other technical experts from SIF, TMT and GFW joined the meeting via remote link and were able to successfully participate in the two-day meeting virtually.

Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG)

As a result of Ghana’s ratification to the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the Ports Task Force Ghana (PTFG) was established to take the lead in operationalizing the National Strategy and Action Plan for the implementation of the PSMA. The PTFG supports agencies to work together towards stopping illegal fishing and its associated crimes. It is coordinated by the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Division of Ghana’s Fisheries Commission, and is supported by the Ports State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) initiative.

Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF)

The Ports Task Force Ghana is supported by Stop Illegal Fishing, through the PSM-SIF initiative with funding from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Global Programme Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Special Initiative.

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