The African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Center (ANRC) and the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) jointly organized a workshop on “Combatting illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in West Africa.”
The October 27-28 workshop held in Cotonou, Benin, focused on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) and compliance with the EU anti-IUU fishing regulation.” The workshop was attended by Fisheries Directors of the 13 West African coastal countries or their representatives as well as technical fisheries staff.
The workshop set out to review the status of ratification and/or implementation of the PSMA and the expected assistance needs for its effective implementation in the 13 West African coastal countries; present simplified guidelines to assist concerned African countries in the process of becoming compliant with the EU anti-IUU regulation and identify the countries where it could be tested.
West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea are recording some of the highest levels of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Africa with estimated costs in the range of US $1.2 billion. Fighting IUU fishing requires the combination of various measures. However, the utilization of legal instruments, and Ports State Measures, in particular, constitute the most cost-effective way of combating IUU fishing. This was confirmed by the 2014 Africa Progress Panel report “Grain, Fish, Money”. The FAO Port States Measures Agreement (PSMA) is a “bidding” agreement which aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. The PSMA went into effect worldwide on June 5, 2016 and to date 12 African countries have ratified it (including five West African countries). ANRC has assisted six FCWC member countries (Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria) in the ratification process.
One of the key drivers of export trade is compliance with regulatory frameworks and alignment with the expectations of consumer groups in the import markets. In 2010, the EU passed a specific regulation to address IUU fishing. The regulation places obligations on third countries to certify that the fisheries products caught by their flagged vessels are not the result of IUU fishing activities with intent to export to the EU countries. Such regulation should be seen as an incentive for countries on the supply and demand end of the value chain to improve the overall governance of the sector. ANRC has reviewed the experiences of Ghana and Togo in becoming compliant with the regulation and has designed and published simplified guidelines to assist fish exporting RMCs in the compliance process.
The Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) has been working with the ANRC on combatting IUU fishing since 2015 in its six member countries. The joint workshop was co-chaired by the permanent secretary of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) which is the regional fisheries body regrouping costal countries from Mauritania to Sierra Leone.
Participants commended the Bank and ANRC for the assistance provided to FCWC countries that have yielded concrete results in the ratification of the Ports State Measures Agreement.