In implementation of the PESCAO program and commencement of activities under component 1 – improving regional fisheries governance, the first Steering Committee Meeting of the “Improved Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa” (PESCAO) program took place from November 7th to 8th 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria. Initiated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Steering Committee is the decision-making body and platform for political dialogue on fisheries and aquaculture issues in West Africa. Members and observers of the steering committee worked toward the review and validation of the annual work plan and budget ; the identification of synergies and common activities to be implemented jointly with the other partners working in the same areas; and the suggestion of a mechanism for the coordination of the different PESCAO components.
“The PESCAO first steering committee meeting gave a good opportunity to launch the coordination mechanism of the program and the FCWC was also able to share its component work plan and activities implemented so far,” said FCWC Secretary-General Mr. Seraphin Dedi.
The absence of a strategy to define a regional policy in West Africa fisheries has led to uncoordinated donor interventions in the form of projects and programs, without consistency and strong institutional anchor. Conscious of these issues, the ECOWAS requested the technical assistance of the European Union (EU) under the PESCAO program to work towards the significant improvement of the fisheries and aquaculture governance in the region.
“ECOWAS countries must significantly improve their ability to control and punish illegal fishing in their territorial waters. Weak enforcement of fisheries laws results in continued and unsustainable exploitation of this resource’’ said Dr SY Traore, Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at ECOWAS.
The PESCAO program is funded by the European Union for ECOWAS (EDF / 2018 / 397-877) and the beneficiaries are the ECOWAS countries and Mauritania. It is firmly in line with the ECOWAS mission, particularly its Vision 2020, which focuses on effective economic cooperation and integration, including a resolute and concerted policy of food self-sufficiency ".