The Fisheries Committee for West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC)’s West Africa Task Force (WATF) held a meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, from 25th to 26th May 2016, to assess the activities of the “Fisheries Intelligence Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS)’’ project since the last WATF meeting held in October 2016 in Benin. The meeting marked the end of the first phase of the project and also the preparation of project document for the second phase. About 25 participants, made up of Directors of Fisheries from the FCWC member countries, members of the technical team (SIF, TMT, NFDS), representatives of World Fish Trade Program and ECOWAS, attended the meeting.
Specific issues addressed include: monitoring, control and surveillance in the FCWC member countries; recommendations made at the last meeting and their implementation; ratification of the FAO 2009 Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) by FCWC countries; the ECOWAS Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) project; registration of IMO numbers on fishing vessels; transhipment strategy; review of the legal framework of the WATF; and the security, confidentiality and ownership of information shared by the WATF.
Giving a brief introduction to the Task Force and its activities in the first phase, the Chief Analyst of TMT and a member of the technical team, Mr Duncan Copeland, expressed gratitude to all for their contributions. “I wish to thank members of the Task Force and all partners, and particularly wish to note the important role played by Nigeria in the phase 1 of the project. I looked forward to productive discussions in these two days and the ongoing success of the Task Force,” he said.
The Secretary General of the FCWC, Mr Seraphin Dedi Nadje, noted that the Gulf of Guinea region is seen as a region with the highest level of illegal fishing in the world, and that the impact of the situation on loss of revenue, opportunities and decrease in living conditions was nothing good to boast about. He said it was against that background that, the FCWC had taken several initiatives, since its creation, to fight the situation. He also recounted achievements of the FCWC, which he attributed to the positive collaboration and hard work of participants, technical team and partners, but indicated that more needed to be done.
“We need to do more to consolidate or even seriously take a look back at some achievements, but this can certainly not be done without the determination and commitment of all,” he said.
A representative of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Dr Parry Ochuko Obatola, thanked t the FCWC, the technical team and the Norwegian Government for their support to the sub region and mainly to Nigeria to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. She indicated that as part of her government’s efforts to combat IUU fishing, Nigeria is getting two patrol vessels and also observed that since March 2017 fishing vessels flagged to Nigeria or fishing in Nigeria carry IMO numbers and International Radio Call signs.
Based on the assessment of the activities and what had been achieved, participants discussed the way forward in the form of strong commitment for a second phase of the project with the Norwegian Government cooperation (NORAD) support, and an appeal for ECOWAS’ participation in this model of Cooperation, Collaboration and Communication to combat illegal fishing in the region.