The Member States of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) have agreed to support a joint patrol between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; to work towards coordination of a closed season period across the region for both artisanal and industrial fisheries; to explore possibilities for providing technical support and capacity building to Sierra Leone and Cameroon; and to establish connections between the regional information exchange platforms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC) and the West Africa Task Force (WATF), with a view to improving operational cooperation between the two; and to sensitise Member States on the benefits of ratifying the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 188and the Cape Town Agreement.
The agreements are outcomes of the fourteenth meeting of the WATF, held at the Sarakawa Hotel in Lomé, Togo from 7 – 9 June 2023, organised with the support of the Government of Togo through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries (MEMPPC). The Minister of MEMPPC, Min. Edem Kokou Tengue opened the meeting in the presence of the FCWC Secretary General (SG) Dr. Antoine Gaston Djihinto, ex-PESCAO-ECOWAS TA Team Lead, Dr. Amadou Tall; Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Dr. Domtani Ali; and TMT Executive Director, Duncan Copeland. Min. Tengue in his opening statement acknowledged the FCWC and its support to the region in efforts to improve fisheries governance, sustainable use of resources and fighting IUU fishing. He stated that the WATF has worked to ensure the sustainable use of aquatic resources through the sharing of information, enhancing capacities and strengthening of inter-agency cooperation at the regional and national levels.
FCWC SG Dr. Antoine Gaston Djihinto, in his first time chairing the WATF since taking on the role, reaffirmed that the WATF has strengthened the existing bodies and institutional framework of the FCWC, supported the implementation of the key conventions of the committee, strengthened regional and national MCS capacities and cooperation, and encouraged the ratification of important regional and international instruments.
Other noteworthy outcomes of the Task Force meeting include recommendations to review and update the FCWC Strategy on Transhipment at Sea (in light of the recently agreed FAO Guidelines on Transhipment); to support further study on bunkering activities and in-port transhipment within the FCWC States; to work toward the establishment of standardised framework for fine-based infractions; to encourage FCWC MS utilisation of the Joint Analytical Cell (JAC) to support joint patrols; to support the development of SOPs for port controls for Nigeria, Liberia and Togo.
The regional fisheries meeting’s participants included representatives from FCWC member States’ Fisheries ministries, the WATF Technical Team (comprising the FCWC Secretariat, Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and TMT), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), Skylight, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and representatives from Sierra Leone and Cameroon.