West Africa Task Force begins a second phase with a meeting in Nigeria

By Stop Illegal Fishing:13th Dec, 2018: West Africa Task Force

The West Africa Task Force (WATF) of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held its seventh Task Force meeting in Abuja, Nigeria from the 12th – 14th November 2018. The meeting was attended by Task Force Members, together with observers representing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Improved Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa (PESCAO) Project and the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI).

The WATF was formally established in 2015, and since its formation it has helped to improve regional information sharing, increase cooperation between countries, strengthen interagency cooperation at national level and support the sharing of intelligence to spur enforcement actions. Initially a three-year project, an extension was issued to September 2018 during which time a second project phase was developed and approved.

Opening the meeting, the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, urged the Directors of Fisheries and Heads of MCS of the various FCWC countries present at the meeting to continue to provide guidance and leadership in the fight against IUU fishing. He stated, “The WATF is a unique initiative that has increased transparency in the region through information sharing and cooperation.”

The FCWC Secretary General, Mr Seraphin Dedi Nadje noted the importance of this continued cooperation, as an estimated 40-60% of the fish caught in the Gulf of Guinea is caught illegally. He stated, “We are excited by Norad’s continued support for this initiative as it will allow for the strengthening of activities to support regional sharing of information and intelligence and national level interagency cooperation. We will also see expansion of our activities into new areas such as transparency and anti-corruption in fisheries, and through the implementation of a regional strategy to control transhipment.”

Links between maritime security and illegal fishing were explored in the meeting, Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing, explained, “The maritime security arena is complex with traditional attitudes and actions to a large extent been driven not by the coastal states, but by foreign states protecting their political interests and trading routes. This is changing as countries seek to reap the benefits of their blue economies and protect valuable fishery resources.”

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