The West Africa Task Force is the MCS arm of FCWC. It operationalizes key FCWC conventions on information sharing and MCS cooperation between its Member States. The approach underpinning the Task Force rests on the sharing of intelligence and information between fisheries enforcement officers, technical experts, national agencies, regional organisations and other regional and global players, supported by practical tools, to spur enforcement actions against illegal fishing operators and ultimately contribute to improved compliance.
The WATF was established in 2015 following a recommendation from the 2012 FCWC Ministerial Conference to create a regional working group to address IUU fishing and related issues. Key features of the WATF are its bi-annual meetings regrouping heads of MCS and fisheries directors from the region, its National Working Groups aimed at strengthening inter-agency cooperation and its online communication platform for timely information sharing between enforcement agencies. By routinely sharing information on vessels active in the region, by sharing intelligence on high-risk vessels and operators, and by sharing challenges and successes, the WATF has provided operational monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) support at a national and regional level.
The FCWC Secretariat works in partnership with a Technical Team that includes Trygg Mat Tracking and Stop Illegal Fishing, with funding from NORAD. This model of collaboration between national administrations, intergovernmental organisations and non- governmental organisations has proved a successful catalyst for cooperation, information sharing, and policy reform.
WATF focuses on building national, regional and international cooperation by developing capacity, strategies and transparency; these areas of focus are explored in the following pages.