The Secretariat of the Fishery Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held another of its monthly virtual meetings with the heads of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) of Fisheries departments of its Member States and the West Africa Task Force (WATF) Technical Team on 17 June 2021.
The meeting was an opportunity for the stakeholders to share updates and review national and regional activity since the last meeting held in April 2021. Key updates shared in the meeting included: Togo’s adoption of a National Action Plan against IUU; Ghana’s preparation toward a closed season; Nigeria’s establishment of infrastructure (equipment) for its vessel monitoring system; PSMA implementation across the region; and maritime insecurity events.
The Head of MCS for Ghana also shared that the nation has been given a yellow card by the European Union. FCWC Secretary General Seraphin Dedi remarked that while it is unfortunate that the region now has two Member States that have been given yellow cards (Liberia, 2017), the FCWC is ready and willing to support all measures working collaboratively to see that the cards are withdrawn.
Over the period in review, five of the Member States received equipment that was delivered to build personnel capacity, facilitate communication, and to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on meeting activities. To address the challenges that COVID-19 has posed to in-person meetings, virtual capacity building lessons have been developed on themes including: AIS and VMS data use; maritime domain awareness platforms; and various aspects of PSMA implementation – the Advanced Request for Entry at Port (AREP) process, port state responsibilities, and denial of port entry/use of Force Majeure. Member States are to submit requests to schedule times for the trainings to be held.
In anticipation of eased travel restrictions post-COVID-19, an exchange of experience programme for the remainder of 2021 was also discussed, with commitments to schedule dates and times after further review.
The next WATF Task Force Meeting is likely to be held in Ghana, and was proposed for the end of July 2021, confirmation pending.
FCWC Communication Officer.