Nigerian authorities meet to move cooperation forward

By Stop Illegal Fishing:16th May, 2018: Event Coverage

Representatives from eight Nigerian agencies participated in the third meeting of the Nigerian National Working Group (NWG) of the West Africa Task Force to stop illegal fishing.

Deputy Director Of Fisheries Resources, Ms. Bola Aduke Kupolati welcomed representatives from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Port Authority, Federal Ministry Of Justice, Marine Police, and the National Aquatic Resources Quarantine Service.

The NWG has been established to strengthen inter agency cooperation and collaboration to combat and deter illegal fishing in Nigerian waters. Ms Kupolati stressed that, “Illegal fishing is a big business from which a lot of people are benefiting. Our policies and programmes as government must therefore be directed towards stopping these illegal fishing activities. It is necessary for us to have an enabling environment, not just for foreign investments, but in particular for local investments to thrive.”

Cooperation to date has enabled faster and more systematic exchange of information. Ms Kupolati praised the impact of the dedicated NWG communications group, “The platform has really added greater value to our collaboration and improved the cooperation among the agencies. We receive prompt responses from agencies whenever information is required. In fact it has really been fantastic the kind of attention we receive from the agencies.”

The meeting provided an opportunity to review recent activity and cases of illegal fishing as well as the impact of recent changes to licence and registration conditions. 2017 saw the introduction of mandatory use of automatic information system (AIS), a means of tracking the location of vessels, for all fishing vessels. Gaps in AIS transmissions by some vessels have been identified through ongoing monitoring by the West Africa Task Force, and steps to monitor and enforce adherence to AIS usage were discussed.

The formalisation of the NWG was identified as a necessary step to safeguard the continuing exchange of information and active cooperation. A Memorandum of Understanding was drafted and agreed by the NWG and will be sent forward for approval from all agencies.

The West Africa Task Force brings together the six member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo – to tackle illegal fishing and fisheries crime. The Task Force is facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team that includes Trygg Mat Tracking and Stop Illegal Fishing with funding from Norad. By actively cooperating, by sharing information and by facilitating national interagency working groups the West Africa Task Force is working together to stop illegal fishing.

The meeting took place at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research in Lagos on May 9th-10th 2018.

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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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