The Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held its 12th Meeting of the West Africa Task Force (WATF) at the Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel, in Lagos, Nigeria, on 10 -12 May 2022, to discuss ways to improve the existing regional cooperation.
The meeting brought together participants from the six Member States’ fisheries departments, and representatives from organizations including TM-Tracking (TMT), Stop Illegal Fishing, include the African Union Inter-Bureau on Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Friends of The Nation (FoN), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), Hen Mpoano, International MCS Network (IMCSN), Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Representatives from the fisheries ministries of Sierra Leone and Cameroon were also present as observers.
The three-day meeting was opened by Nigeria’s Federal Director of Fisheries, Ime Umoh, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, in the presence of FCWC Secretary-General, Seraphin Dedi, ECOWAS-PESCAO TA Team Lead, Dr. Amadou Tall, and TMT Executive Director, Duncan Copeland.
In opening remarks, Seraphin Dedi noted that the outcomes of the meeting would be considered in the discussions for the third phase of the FISHERIES INTELLIGENCE AND MCS SUPPORT project through which WATF was established. He urged a focus on the core objectives of the meeting to secure the sustainability of MCS achievements since the creation of the WATF, and to agree on implementing regional activities.
Dr. Amadou Tall in a speech read on behalf of ECOWAS’s Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Allain Sy Traore, cited the signature of the tripartite MOU between ECOWAS, SRFC and FCWC as an indicator of burgeoning regional cooperation, and advances in the formalization and strengthening of regional cooperation ties.
The meeting addressed a range of themes including: a regional closed season; joint patrols; a subregional observer program; the operations and sustainability of the Regional MCS Centre established under the European Union-funded IMPROVED REGIONAL FISHERIES GOVERNANCE (PESCAO) project; cooperation with other initiatives (such as an MCS-centered AU-IBAR initiative, the tripartite TMT-GFW-IMCSN Joint Action Cell (JAC), FAO IUU Regional Coordination project); Port State Measures implementation; and Decent Work in fisheries.
A new study, TRANSHIPMENT: ISSUES AND RESPONSES IN THE FCWC REGION, which aims to provide an overview of how and where transhipment takes place, and how it impacts on the FCWC region’s fish stocks and the trade in fish, was launched at the meeting.
Key outcomes of the meeting include recommendations to submit missing information on national licensing regimes, to raise national-level awareness for a regional closed season, to complete a ten-year budget forecast for the RMCSC, to ratify international instruments to ensure Decent Work in fisheries, and to nominate focal points for the upcoming MCS capacity assessment.