The committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) member States Liberia, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as founder members of the West Africa Task Force met in Abidjan from 14-17 July 2015 for a regional training within the framework of the “Fisheries Intelligence and MCS support in West Africa” project.
The training opening ceremony was marked by the presence of the Hon. Mr Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Resources of Cote d’Ivoire and currentchair of the FCWC.In his opening intervention, he reminded participants that illegal fishing is motivated by a financial gain and is more and more related to Fisheries Crime. Illegal fishing takes advantage ofweaknesses in fisheries management systems and targets developing Countries. However, focussing only on illegal fishing at seais restricted, as it is increasingly understood that illegal fishing operations extend to trade, processing, landings, markets and to fish and marine products supply chains. Thus, the Minster recognised and encouraged the holding of the workshop, which aimedto buildcapacities within West Africa Task Force countries to fight against those activities which deprives the region of its main resources for food security and sustainable development.
The FCWC General Secretary Mr Seraphin Dedi Nadje following the Minister’s words, highlighting the importance of cooperation in shared marine resources system management. The support provided to the West Africa Task Force to improve communication and information sharing at a regional level is an effective strategy in the fight against IUU fishing.
TMT Chief Analyst Mr Duncan Copeland thanked Cote d’Ivoire for hosting the workshop, acknowledging knowing the crucial position the country in regional efforts to combat illegal fishing, particularly as the home the port of Abidjan.
View of the opening ceremony
Six international experts, Countries representatives, and regional technical partners all participated in the workshop. The desk-based training aimed to establish Baselines and provide training on:
Identification, collection and analysis of fisheries intelligence, and sharing at the regional levelInter-agency cooperation and improving cooperation between relevant national agencies, including the establishment of National Working Groups;
International and regional legal frameworks, current legislation for each country and institutional framework as they related to operational MCS;
Identification of ongoing initiatives on national and regional level to ensure harmonisation and no duplication of efforts;
IUU fishing trends and operational MCS responses;
Investigation processes, collection and securing of evidence, and case building;
Establishment of the regional communications platform for exchange and sharing information between Task Force members.
A practical session was held at Abidjan’s port to help participants get trained on methods of intelligence and evidence collection on board fishing vessels and helpbuild on their inspections skills.
Delegations of Nigeria and Liberia at Abijan port
The training ended on a strong note with countries committing tothe development and operationalisation of the regional communications platform within FCWC region. Countries were given the opportunity to identify areas for future training by Technical Team of the project, to further build the support of the West Africa Task Force and National Working Groups.