New report: West Africa Task Force — Interagency Cooperation in the FCWC Region

By Stop Illegal Fishing:8th Jul, 2018: West Africa Task Force

Interagency cooperation has been a core element of the West Africa Task Force (WATF) since its formation in 2015. The support that has been offered to the six Task Force members, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo, through the development of National Working Groups is examined in this new report.

Illegal fishing and fisheries crime are intrinsically complex, with fishing operations often occurring over a number of jurisdictions and a range of crimes and violations being committed in the process. It has been widely acknowledged that operators who break the law in one area are likely to be breaking it in others, leading to a range of economic, environmental and human related offences.

Cooperation is an essential aspect of any action to end illegal fishing; it has long been seen that national fisheries authorities acting in isolation can have limited impact. The WATF has built on the regional cooperation of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and is supporting the development of interagency cooperation at a national level. This is needed to both support compliance to fisheries law and regulations and to enforce and sanction against the associated crimes that are taking place in the fishing industry.

Speaking at the report launch, Seraphin Dedi Nadje, Secretary General of the FCWC said, “The National Working Groups that have been established are not just talk shops. They are supporting existing cooperation and developing new connections. Interagency activity is taking place to inform port access authorisation, flagging and licensing decisions. Joint activity and operations have been undertaken and training is underway to build knowledge of illegal fishing and fisheries crime amongst partner agencies. These actions will all help the ability of our fisheries officers to end illegal fishing.”

The report provides an overview of the reasons why interagency cooperation is needed and highlights international agreements such as the PSMA, and national measures including flag and licence applications, that can be used to stop illegal fishing. The processes involved and the experiences to date of the six FCWC countries are also detailed.

“We are confident that by building this national awareness of the issue and the capacity and resolve to fight it that the FCWC region will continue to see improvements in the way our members act as responsible coastal, port, flag and market States. We hope that by sharing our experiences other countries will be able to benefit from our experiences,” commented Mr Dedi.

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing stated, “By working together with other national agencies fisheries enforcement teams can improve the prevention, identification, investigation and sanction of criminals operating in the fisheries sector. Our work in supporting interagency cooperation in the WATF will lead to more effective implementation of port State measures in the region, making this a powerful tool to stop the import and processing of illegally caught fish in the FCWC region.”

Duncan Copeland, Trygg Mat Tracking commented, “This is a timely reflection on the process of building effective and successful working relationships between relevant agencies to tackle illegal fishing. As we enter the second phase of the project supporting the

West Africa Task Force, and with the EU funded PESCAO project starting in 2018, we are looking to build on the firm foundations that have been established. We look forward to seeing interagency cooperation playing a crucial role in increasing compliance in the fisheries sector in the FCWC region.”

Download West Africa Task Force — Interagency Cooperation in the FCWC Region

Download Groupe de Travail de l’Afrique de l’Ouest : Coopération inter-administrations dans la région du CPCO

 

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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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