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

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

The twelfth meeting of the West Africa Task Force was held in Lagos, Nigeria on 10 – 12 May 2022. Participation of the directors and heads of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) from the Fisheries Commission for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) Member States, Technical Team members, and representatives of partner organizations was though in-person and online attendance.

Opening the meeting, a representative of the Director of Fisheries, Mr Ime Umoh, welcomed all participants and expressed his gratitude to the partners for their support to the region. In his statement, the Director noted the progress made in the fight against IUU fishing and maritime crime more broadly, which pose significant threats to the region.

In opening remarks, FCWC Secretary General Seraphin Dedi, urged participants to focus on steps needed to secure the sustainability of MCS achievements since the creation of the WATF, and to agree on implementing regional activities.

Dr Amadou Tall, speaking on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Allain Sy Traore, cited the signature of the tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ECOWAS, Subregional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) and FCWC as an indicator of burgeoning regional cooperation, and advances in the formalization and strengthening of regional cooperation ties.

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).

Multiple patrols have been undertaken within the FCWC region since the previous Task Force meeting, resulting in several arrests and the imposition of penalties. These patrols included national efforts, joint efforts between FCWC States and patrols conducted with external partners. Among the key issues noted was the need to ensure that those onboard patrol vessels are sufficiently aware of and familiar with fisheries legislation in force, which could be achieved through the presence of fisheries personnel.

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.

Preliminary results from a survey on working conditions in marine fisheries in the FCWC region, conducted by Vanessa Jaiteh, a researcher from the Ecosystems and Environment Programme at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab, were shared. Responses indicated that workers in the industrial sub-sector report higher rates of labour and safety issues than the artisanal sub-sector.

A new study, TRANSHIPMENT: ISSUES AND RESPONSES IN THE FCWC REGION, which aims to provide an overview of how and where transhipment takes place, and how it impacts on the FCWC region’s fish stocks and the trade in fish, was launched at the meeting.

Key outcomes of the meeting include recommendations to submit missing information on national licensing regimes, to raise national-level awareness for a regional closed season, to complete a ten-year budget forecast for the RMCSC, to ratify international instruments to ensure decent work in fisheries, and to nominate focal points for the upcoming MCS capacity assessment.

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 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 TM-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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