West Africa Task Force holds eleventh regional monitoring, control and surveillance meeting

By Stop Illegal Fishing:6th Dec, 2021: West Africa Task Force

The Fisheries Commission for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), through the West Africa Task Force (WATF), is building cooperation and commitment at the national, regional and international levels in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The eleventh meeting of the West Africa Task Force was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 22 – 23 November 2021. Participation of the directors and heads of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) from the FCWC Member States, Technical Team members, and representatives of partner organizations was though in-person and online attendance.

Opening the meeting Mr Guillaume Dadi Seripka, Ministry of Animal and Fisheries Resources, Côte d’Ivoire, noted the regional maritime security issues and the challenges posed when there is no common monitoring of resources. He stated, “We appreciate the Norad support to the FCWC which has facilitated the establishment of the WATF. This helps us to pull together our fisheries assets to help us fight IUU within the FCWC region.”

The meeting focused on activities advancing regional cooperation and coordination to fight IUU fishing, including operational cooperation driven by the operationalisation of the FCWC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC).

Collaboration on decent work in fisheries was discussed with presentations from Christine Bader and Alix Nasri, both from the International Labor Organization (ILO).  The fisheries and agriculture sector has the fourth highest rates for forced labour globally. There is a renewed ILO push to help frontline responders to detect forced labour at different points in the worker’s journey. Ms Nasri stated, “Forced labour can take many forms and can be very subtle. We have identified 11 ‘red flags’ to look for as indicators that forced labour may be present, these include debt bondage, withholding of wages, deception, intimidation, isolation and violence.”

Vanessa Jaiteh, a researcher from the Ecosystems and Environment Programme at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, introduced the global survey on working conditions in marine fisheries to FCWC member States. She said, “Currently there are substantial knowledge gaps on human labour rights and violations on board fishing vessels. The idea of hotspots could just be related to where we look. The more we look the more we see, and we find issues everywhere we look!”

The meeting also discussed ongoing cases of illegal fishing, planned joint patrols, the pilot regional observers programme, implementation of port State measures and ongoing support provided by the RMCSC and the WATF training programme.

The six member States of the Fisheries Commission of the West Central Gulf of Guinea form the core of the WATF and are supported by a technical team made up of Trygg Mat Tracking and Stop Illegal Fishing, with financial support from Norad and from the EU, through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) hosted PESCAO project. Through active cooperation, information sharing and facilitating the operations of national interagency working groups, the West Africa Task Force is working together to stop illegal fishing.

 

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