The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) has launched a new report “The West Africa Task Force: Interagency Cooperation In The FCWC Region” today. This publication provides an overview of the importance of interagency cooperation between national fisheries authorities of the member states of the FCWC region and associated agencies to tackle illegal fishing.
The damage caused by illegal fishing at a national level is significant. It causes very real hardship to individuals who rely on fishing to support their families with food and income. It deprives governments of much needed revenue that could be used to spur national development of employment, infrastructure, education and health services.
Illegal fishing, far from being an isolated, opportunistic effort is often connected to a several related crimes that have been intentionally linked and systematically undertaken to maximize profit to vessel owners while causing damage to fish stocks and livelihoods. This complex nature of the illegal activity has meant that efforts in the past to tackle it on singular fronts have not yielded long-lasting impact.
With estimated annual losses to the FCWC members totaling 300 million US dollars, FCWC Secretary General, Seraphin Dedi Nadje commented, “ Crime in the fisheries sector compounds the damage done by illegal fishing: it fuels corruption, undermines governance and the rule of law, brings violence and human rights abuses into the industry and drives fish stocks to unsustainable levels. The need for action is great, and the need in a known hotspot for illegal fishing, like West Africa, is greater still.”
Cooperation between agencies has strengthened the ability of member states to remove illegal actors from the fisheries sector. The West Africa Task Force through its National Working Groups has built upon the regional cooperation of the FCWC and is supporting the development of interagency cooperation at national and regional levels.
“With the EU granted FCWC/PESCAO four (4) years project that will be launched on 30-31 July 2018, we are looking to build on the firm foundations that have been established. We look forward to seeing interagency cooperation strengthening and increasing compliance in the fisheries sector in the FCWC region” Seraphin Dedi stated.
The scope of illegal fishing and related activities, the international agreements and national measures available to stop illegal fishing, the processes involved and the country experiences so far are detailed in this new report.