West Africa Task Force delivers interagency port State measures training

By Stop Illegal Fishing:26th Jul, 2022: West Africa Task Force

The West Africa Task Force of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held a 10-day interagency workshop in Tema, Ghana from 28 June – 6 July 2022 for participating agencies to improve their understanding of, and capacity to implement the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA).

A total of 23 participants came from Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria and included representatives from the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Divisions of Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria, and other Ghana national agencies: Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Ghana Marine Police, and Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA).

The training was a joint activity of two initiatives, namely the ‘Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa’ project funded by Norad, and ‘Supporting effective PSMA implementation in Africa: Intelligence-led Port Controls’ programme funded by the Oak Foundation. The training was delivered by a technical team consisting of Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), TM-Tracking, and Global Fishing Watch (GFW) and was held under the auspices of the Ports task Force Ghana, established in 2018 to ensure an interagency approach to PSMA implementation.

The training provided a mix of classroom and practical sessions. Classroom sessions focused on using a risk-based approach to the planning and targeting of foreign vessel inspections. Risk assessment methods were introduced as well as new tools under development, such as a ‘PSMA Port Profile’ of the port of Tema and Vessel Viewer, a mobile application developed by GFW and TMT aimed at providing port inspectors with the most up-to-date information on a fishing vessel’s identity and operations.

Practical exercises in port involved the mentoring of officials as they conducted an inspection of a foreign-flagged purse seiner. The value of interagency cooperation, document verification, and evidence collection were all highlighted.

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing, commented, “Moving interagency cooperation from theory into practice is our next big challenge. Through the work of the Ports Task Force Ghana, we have a good understanding of where the information flow and cooperation needs to improve. This training workshop has allowed us to move another step forward to achieving true interagency operations. By working together, we can block illegally caught fish from being landed; a critical step in ending illegal fishing.”

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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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