The project aims to build on existing FCWC initiatives such as conventions, work plans and the MCS working group as well as pan African initiatives, to strengthen MCS operations in West Africa. The project will establish a structure to support long term cooperation between countries in Monitoring, Control, Surveillance and sharing of fisheries information in West Africa.
The first Task Force meeting marking the start of the pilot phase was held on the 28th and 29th April, 2015 in Accra, Ghana with the cooperation of the representatives of FCWC’s six member States, the FCWC Secretariat and representatives of technical partners (TMT, SIF, NFDS).
The participant countries had the opportunity to discussthe challenges and the difficulties encountered in their shared fight against IUU fishing, including lack of cooperation between national fisheries agencies, lack of proper port inspections, problems related to vessel registration, financial constraints etc.The shared conclusion was that the regional approach is an effective and efficient solution in the fight against IUU fishing.
The consequences of illegal fishing are not need to be reminded but the illegal operators are always so ready to go to extremes to cover their offences.The case of the illegal fishing vessel “Thunder”, which sunk in the Atlantic earlier this year, provided a regionally relevant example which demonstrated the importance of the project and stimulated deep discussions during the meeting.
Why a West Africa TASK FORCE?
The project “Fisheries Intelligence and MCS support in West Africa” funded by NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) for three years aims to contribute to more effective governance of regional fisheries resources in West Africa through a reduction of illegal fishing. This project builds on existing initiatives and aims to strengthen FCWC work on collecting and sharing fisheries intelligence and capacity building to be able to effectively act on fisheries intelligence to improve compliance by fishing operators.
The “Task Force”will be supported by technical partners TMT, SIF and NFDS and a “Technical Team” made of international and national experts, and supported at national level by “National Focus Groups”, consisting of participating countries’ representatives. Activities will be coordinated by a communications expert based at the FCWC Secretariat’s office.
Following this first meeting, it has been decided to:
Organize a regional training during which Task Force members will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with working materials prepared and developed by the Technical Team;
Implement National Focus Groups in each Country which will support the Task Force;
Prepare for the official launch of the project at the next FCWC Ministerial Meeting to be held in December 2015.
The results of the first Task Force meeting were outstanding in the way that all participant countries have accepted and given their support to the project as well as the FCWC Secretariat. Certain countries have already expressed their wish to receive support for national capacity building and to request for technical support.
TMT West Africa Field Coordinator In collaboration with FCWC Secretariat