The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) participated in the Africa Nemo 22.4 joint patrol operation led by the French Navy responsible for the Atlantic Area (CECLANT) from 19-23 September 2022 in the Gulf of Guinea.
The joint naval and air patrol focused primarily on combatting IUU fishing but also aimed to address other maritime security issues. The navies of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, with the support of the Italian and Spanish navies, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the interregional maritime security structure of the Yaoundé Architecture participated in the operation. Through the Yaoundé Architecture, the Inter-regional Coordination Centre (ICC), the Regional Maritime Security Centres (CRESMs), the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCCs) and National Maritime Operation Centres (MOCs) of the participating countries and their navies held daily briefings with CECLANT to strengthen their coordination and cooperation in this activity to fight against maritime insecurity.
The FCWC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC) with support from TM Tracking provided a Remote-Sensing Intelligence Picture of the Area of Operation (AO) in the FCWC region (excluding Liberia’s EEZ), using the AIS and VMS capabilities of the Regional VMS. With the assistance of the Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network (GoGIN)’s Olivier Bichon, the Yaoundé Architecture Regional Information System (YARIS) platform was used during the operation to develop maritime domain awareness, and to share maritime operational events with the stakeholders on the platform, specifically on fishing vessels and fishing activity. Bunkering, dark rendezvous, and fishing in the inshore exclusive zones (IEZ) were some of the fisheries infractions observed during the period of surveillance.
Key outcomes of this joint patrol operation include an increased capacity of the FCWC RMCSC to initiate discrete multi-layered communication and information-sharing with the twenty-seven centres comprising the Yaoundé architecture; the ability to share detailed maritime events with these centres and other partners securely; and the increased capacity of the FCWC RMCSC to aggregate data from multiple systems to identify vessels and suspicious behaviour.
The joint patrol marks another success in the FCWC regional approach to fisheries management and MCS activities, maximizing collective efforts and avoiding duplication. In line with the FCWC 2022 Theme of the Year, Using innovative technology to increase oversight of safe, fair and legal fishing, further joint operations are planned in the FCWC region in 2022 involving the use of the RVMS and YARIS tech tools. Preparations are underway for Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to hold a joint patrol operation in the 4th quarter of 2022. Benin and Togo are also preparing to hold a second joint operation following their first in 2021.