West Africa Task Force: risk assessment training targets illegal fishing

By Stop Illegal Fishing:4th Mar, 2020: West Africa Task Force

A three-day West Africa Task Force (WATF) workshop provided practical training on the management of risk in fisheries, and the use of risk assessment to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The workshop brought together officials in charge of the inspection and control of fisheries, from the six countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo, over three days to enhance technical capacity and knowledge of risk assessment techniques.

Focus was placed on the decision-making process that the inspectors, with the support of the national fisheries monitoring centres, will need to use to determine the priority for the inspection and control of fishing vessels to achieve operational objectives.

In particular, this decision should be guided by the risk of potential non-conformities with the conservation and fisheries management rules that vessels could infringe. Therefore, an understanding of the rules in force and the vessels to which they apply is therefore a necessary precondition for any inspection and control activity.

Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator, commented, “Risk assessment is being widely adopted as a key component of the due diligence checks on fishing vessels, operators and catch for decision making on licensing, flagging or port access. Through the Port State Measures to Stop Illegal Fishing (PSM-SIF) project we have been road-testing a risk assessment tool to identify high-risk vessels. We hope this will also prove to be a useful device for the West Africa Task Force.”

The workshop was hosted by the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) with technical support from the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the West Africa Task Force (WATF) technical team – Trygg Mat Tracking and Stop Illegal Fishing. The meeting took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 17-19 February 2020.

This workshop was supported by the Norad-funded ‘Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support’ project and the European Union-funded ‘Improved Regional Fisheries Governance’ project, both supporting the WATF as the FCWC mechanism to combat illegal fishing in the region.

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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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