The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and the Technical Team (TT) of the West Africa Task Force (WATF) comprising Stop Illegal Fishing and TM Tracking (TMT), held a fisheries-led inter-agency workshop in Monrovia, Liberia, from 8-10 May 2023 to review Liberia’s fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) activities since the last national working group meeting.
Under the auspices of the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS in West Africa project, funded by Norad, representatives of Liberia’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and other agencies met to update the TT on the state of progress of recommendations to Liberia that were made at the last regional West Africa Task Force Meeting 13.
Meeting participants were introduced to a new project, the Intelligence-led Port State Control programme being implemented by Global Fishing Watch and TMT, as it is being extended to Liberia following successful pilots in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Liberia will benefit from the support that the programme provides to improve its implementation of the FAO Agreement on Port States Measures (PSMA) through capacity building and technical assistance. Among other outputs, Liberia will receive tablet mobile devices with access to the Vessel Viewer application to research vessel history, identity and activity as they conduct a risk assessment. Liberia will also benefit from the development of a Port Profile – a tool that provides an overview analysis of foreign vessel activity as a baseline for risk analysis during the Advanced Request for Entry to Port (AREP) process of PSMA implementation.
Interagency cooperation was discussed at length during the meeting because of the multi-faceted nature of port state controls requiring multiple agencies to play crucial roles along the process at critical times. Representatives of Liberia’s Maritime Authority, Coast Guard, Police, Immigration Service, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defense, and APM Terminals participated in the discussions to clarify roles and harmonize an approach to cooperation and collaboration on these matters.
Another key discussion point was the validation of the results of the 2022 assessment of Liberia’s national MCS capacity: an evaluation of the nation’s institutional, infrastructure, and human capacity. A key finding of the assessment is that there is a dearth of standard operating procedures to govern MCS and PSM activities that require development, and a session of the meeting was dedicated to determining the needs. The meetings recommendations include the expansion of the interagency group to include other national agencies (Port Authority, Customs, Drug Enforcement Agency, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency); the development of a risk assessment matrix; and the creation of an interagency information-sharing platform.