The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) through the regional online communications platform established under the West Africa Task Force (WATF), has successfully facilitated the arrest of 10 hijackers of the HAI LU FENG 11 vessel, rescuing the lives of 18 crew members.
The vessel had an Ivorian fishing license, and gave its last position in Ivorian waters on 14 May 2020. After two days of non-responsiveness, intelligence was shared on the regional online communications platform to alert all FCWC Member States agencies. The fact that its last-known position was in Togo’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), together with subsequent analysis of the vessel’s track led agencies to believe the vessel was headed toward Nigeria’s EEZ. The Nigerian authorities were alerted and they deployed the Nigerian Navy Ship NGURU to intercept and rescue the hijacked vessel. The vessel crew members consisted of 8 Chinese, 7 Ivorians, and 3 Ghanaians.
FCWC Secretary-General, Seraphin Dedi, commended all national, regional agencies, and the Technical team of WATF, for their actions that led to the research and arrest of the pirates on the hijacked vessel. “This operation is a justification for the need of regional cooperation and demonstrated the mastering of the use of VMS by experts in the region and its usefulness for the monitoring of vessels, the fight against IUU fishing and the protection of human lives and goods,” he stated. The cooperation that made this arrest possible further demonstrates the importance of communication and collaboration at the national and regional level and joint approaches to enforcement actions at sea.