Operationalisation of SADC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre marks progress in the fight against illegal fishing

By Stop Illegal Fishing:18th Nov, 2019: FISH-i Africa

Fisheries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, including marine and inland capture fisheries, generate a variety of benefits towards nutrition and food security, livelihoods, employment, national revenue, exports and foreign currency. However, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is estimated to cost the SADC region around USD 400 million/year threatens the health of fish stocks, distorts markets, undermines governance, and undermines the wellbeing and livelihoods of coastal communities.

In August 2017, the SADC Council of Ministers approved a SADC Charter, which provides the legal framework for the establishment and operationalization of an institution that will coordinate monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) in the SADC region; paving the way for the establishment of the SADC Regional MCS Coordination Centre (SADC MCSCC).

Following this decision, in November 2017, SADC Ministers for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Tourism committed to signing the Charter, and approved the establishment of the Interim Project Management Unit (IPMU) to advance the operationalisation of the SADC MCSCC. The SADC Ministers in June 2019 approved the recommendation to incorporate the FISH‐i Africa Task Force mechanisms into the MCSCC and a roadmap for operationalising this over the next three years.

The SADC Secretariat, the SADC MCSCC’s IPMU and Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), with support from the WWF and The Waterloo Foundation (TWF) organised a meeting to discuss progress with implementation and in particular to start the process of handing over the FISH‐i Africa communications information exchange portal to the IMPU. This meeting was held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 30 to 31 October 2019.

SIF Coordinator, Mr Per Erik Bergh welcomed everyone to the SIF offices. He stated that, “SIF is very pleased to be working, on behalf of the technical team of the FISH-i Africa Task Force, to support the set-up of the MCSCC. We have seen that cooperation is critical to fighting illegal fishing and the establishment of the SADC MCSCC will bring real regional strength and cohesion to ongoing efforts.”

All partners have an ambitious roadmap for the incorporation of the mechanisms of FISH-i Africa into the SADC MCSCC and this meeting has been identified as an important step in this process. The meeting focussed on the communications aspects of FISH-i Africa as communication between all countries and partners is necessary to facilitate cooperation, information exchange and information sharing to tackle IUU in the region.

Mrs Maria Eulalia Vales, the MCSCC IPMU Coordinator commented, “The handover of the FISH-i communications portal provides the MCSCC with a great and useful tool to underpin our communications and future success.”

Dr Motseki Hlatshwayo, of the SADC Secretariat commented, “The visit of the IPMU to Gaborone has provided a valuable opportunity to move forward with the operationalization of the MCSCC. This is an exciting time for the region as we have the opportunity to not only clamp down on illegal activity at sea but also in our inland waters through the establishment of a SADC Inland Fisheries MCS Task Force.”

The SADC MCSCC will also extend the cooperation beyond SADC member States through the ongoing involvement of Kenya and Somalia, who, through their membership of FISH-i, will continue to cooperate with SADC coastal States. Dr Hlatshwayo welcomed this strengthening of regional cooperation, “The SADC has long been working at the forefront of regional fisheries challenges. As we move forward it is important that we don’t forget the objective of the SADC 2008 Statement of Commitment to tackle IUU fishing and the SADC MCSCC – to stop illegal fishing in the SADC region.”

Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing Technical Director, welcomed the progress being made in the development of the SADC MCSCC. She said, “The MCSCC will assist the SADC region in providing a sustainable and secure future for its citizens by contributing to sustainable fisheries, which in turn will contribute towards sustainable communities, ecosystems and economies. At a time when the threats of climate change, ocean pollution and overfishing are being recognized we also see a regional hope for blue growth. The MCSCC has a valuable role to play in balancing ocean wealth with ocean health and keeping illegal operators out of our waters.”

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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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