Ghana develops SOPs for risk assessment and inspections of fishing vessel with support of FCWC’s West Africa Task Force

By Stop Illegal Fishing:23rd Oct, 2023:

In Tema during October 2023, the West Africa Task Force (WATF) of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held a 10-day workshop on the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be followed by Ghana’s MCS officers when processing Advance Requests for Entry into Port (AREP) and conducting inspections of fishing vessels. The workshop was conducted by Stop Illegal Fishing, as a technical partner of the WATF.

SOPs are a set of step-by-step instructions that outlines how a particular task or activity should be performed in a consistent and standardised manner. SOPs are typically developed to ensure that all employees follow the same procedures for carrying out specific tasks, in order to achieve consistent results and minimize errors, risks and variability.

Together with Ghanaian MCS officers, the intention of this workshop was to develop SOPs on procedures related to monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) of foreign fishing vessels in Ghana’s EEZ, test them on site so as to ensure their feasibility for MCS officers, and adapt them to make them more practicable. Eventually, the objective will be to institutionalise those SOPs as a formal process to be followed by MCS officers in Ghana.

The technical meeting was attended by the Ghanaian agencies: the MCS division of the Fisheries Commission, the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA) and the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA).

Both SOPs will continue being tested by the MCS officers in the next six months, after which a new workshop will be organized to evaluate the need to adjust the agreed procedures. The objective of these SOPs is that they become an automatism for MCS officers, to help them grow in confidence in their role in an efficient way. The success of SOP implementation will also require two important aspects: a solid knowledge of the legislation and the existence of legal mechanisms that can empower MCS officers to fulfil their mandate, as well as a strong interagency cooperation geared towards the same goal to fight IUU fishing activities.

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