The meeting’s participants included representatives or Directors of Fisheries and Heads of MCS from all the FCWC member countries; interagency partners from Liberia’s National Working Group, and one representative each from Sierra Leone and Cameroon who were invited as observers. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), the European Fisheries Control Authority (EFCA), the Environment Justice Foundation (EJF), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Stop Illegal Fishing, and Trygg Mat Tracking.
The key objective of the meeting was to advance regional collaboration. Discussions focused on; the status of the accession and the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA); the Regional Strategy to Combat Illegal Transshipment at Sea; the proposed regional record of authorized fishing vessels; the feasibility of a regional fishery observer program in support of the regional vessel monitoring center (RVMC) activities.
National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) Director-General (DG) Emma Glassco who represented the Liberian Government, in her opening remarks emphasized the necessity of regional collaboration among FCWC Member States in order to successfully fight IUU fishing. “Vessel registration, vessel monitoring, observer program and patrol missions at national level are not enough to fight against IUU. There is a need to expatiate our efforts beyond national level by forming synergies,” she said.
Seraphin Dedi, FCWC Secretary-General echoed the DG’s emphasis on regional collaboration, stating, “after years of running of this project we have demonstrated that through collaboration, cooperation and communication, combating illegal fishing and associated crimes can be effective. Our ambition now is to market the WATF model to institutions, development partners as well as neighboring organizations and countries as part of efforts to implement the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy and United Nation SDG 14.”
The West Africa Task Force brings together the six member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) –Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo – to tackle illegal fishing and fisheries crime. The Task Force is facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team that includes Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT) and Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) with funding from Norad and the European Union, through the PESCAO Project. By actively cooperating, by sharing information and by facilitating national interagency working groups the West Africa Task Force is working together to stop illegal fishing.