Interagency meeting unites Malagasy agencies in the fight against illegal fishing

By Stop Illegal Fishing:27th Feb, 2020: Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing

Representatives from eight agencies participated in the first interagency workshop to implement port State measures in Madagascar. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries (MAEP) with support from the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) project and was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar on 28-30 January 2020.

 

The workshop focussed on the implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). This agreement came into force in 2016 and has gained significant support amongst African States who have identified its benefits as a means of stopping illegal fishing. 23 African States are now party to the agreement and Madagascar acceded to it in 2017.

 

The meeting was opened by Mr Désiré Tilahy, Secretary General of Fisheries at MAEP. He noted that Madagascar is part of the great family of 64 countries that have signed the FAO PSMA, which offers great potential as a means of ending illegal fishing. Mr Tilahy stated, “For the PSMA to be effective national coordination is needed as is the need for exchange of information. The opportunity to bring representatives from a range of national agencies together to begin on the path to cooperate and work more closely together is a valuable one.”

 

Effective port State measures allow port States to refuse known or suspected illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) vessels access to port, and to identify high-risk vessels for inspection or investigation. These are both powerful tools in the fight against illegal fishing – a fishing vessel cannot operate without access to port to offload, refuel, take on supplies or to be repaired. Thorough and targeted inspections  make best use of resources and efforts and also help to identify illegal vessels.

 

The relatively low cost and high impact of port State measures make them especially attractive for States such as Madagascar who have limited resources and large maritime zones. With well drafted legislation and thorough implementation, port State measures can help to improve not only the fisheries sector, but also contribute to maritime security, ecological sustainability and human rights.

 

Mr Andry Rakotoharivony from the FAO office in Madagascar noted the significance of the PSMA as the first binding international agreement to target IUU. The South West Indian Ocean has been a pioneer region in terms of commitment to the PSMA. An inclusive approach is needed for PSMA implementation with strong cooperation at the national level. He noted that, “This workshop is an opportunity for us to discuss and work together, share experiences and information so that we can face the challenges of illegal fishing.”

 

Mr Per Erik Bergh, Coordinator of Stop Illegal Fishing stressed the importance of fisheries for Madagascar for economic development and as a significant source of food and nutrition security. Illegal fishing poses a significant threat to Madagascar, and the links to labour, immigration, safety and security concerns demand a coordinated and collaborative response from a number of national agencies. He said, “At the heart of the PSMA is the active cooperation needed between fisheries officials and other agencies to effectively check, inspect and act against illegal fishing. We welcome the participation of all the key agencies here today and look forward to working out effective means of communicating and cooperating to identify illegal vessels and to keep them out of our ports.”

 

In recent years Madagascar has played a crucial role in regional efforts to stop illegal fishing, through the Indian Ocean Commission programmes, through participation in the FISH-i Africa Task Force, and through support to the SADC processes. The value of sharing information regionally, cross-checking on licensed or flagged fishing vessels, and coordinating action against illegal operators has brought significant results.

 

Closing the meeting, Mr Tiana Randrianbola, Director of Fisheries, thanked all participants for their attendance at this initial interagency workshop noting that all efforts will be made stronger through cooperation. He said, “The need to exchange and utilize information has been recognised by all agencies represented at the meeting and the willingness to protect Madagascar against IUU vessels will be progressed faster by working together and formalising cooperation”.

 

The support that Stop Illegal Fishing is able to offer to Madagascar through the PSM-SIF project is being funded through the German development agency, known as GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, or BMZ for short. This forms part of the GIZ ONE World − NO Hunger initiative that focuses on the structural causes of hunger and food insecurity and promotes development to create opportunities to escape poverty and malnutrition. SIF is also working in cooperation and coordination with the FAO to develop and implement National Strategies and Action Plans to implement the PSMA.

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The Issues

One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

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Our Approach

Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.

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Our Initiatives

Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

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