| Group photo of 5th West Africa Task Force – Credit Photo: FCWC Secretariat
West Africa loses 1.3 billion US dollars to illegal fishing every year and measures have been put in place to curb the activity in six West African countries.
The six Member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) namely; Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Liberia, Togo and Benin have been brought together under the West Africa Task Force (WATF) facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team made up of Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT) and Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) to combat illegal fishing and related issues.
According to the Head of Technical Team supporting the WATF, Duncan Copeland, a lot of progress has been made since the establishment of the team to track illegal vessels and ensure that fishing activities are conducted legally because the countries have taken firm decisions.
“Countries are complying with the law and that has yielded a good results because they are responsible for each other, hence they communicate very well to ensure things are been done rightly,” he noted at the meeting held in Accra last Wednesday.
He also said with the support from the various governments the Task Force could help curb the activity completely because it was causing a lot of financial loss to the countries via dodged taxes and other financial costs attached to exporting and importing fish into the countries.
This Fifth meeting of the Task Force was primarily focused on the review and adoption of a transshipment strategy, the development of a document on the framework for the protection of information shared among the Task Force countries. The Secretary General of the FCWC, Mr. Seraphin Dedi, emphasized member states’ need to work in mutual trust in one another and the technical team. “We must achieve the common goal of the Committee, which exists to improve fish stocks and the livelihood of the population of the West African region”, he said.
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), Mrs Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, who chaired the opening session of meeting said Ghana was committed to regional cooperation for fisheries management through the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and its specialized frameworks including the WATF to combat illegal fishing.
“It is my fervent hope that workshop participants and resource persons will work hard together to identify and plan various activities of the next phase.
And however noted that the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa will strengthen our efforts at combating Illegal fishing in the Sub-region,” she said.
West Africa loses 1.3 billion US dollars to illegal fishing every year and measures have been put in place to curb the situation in the six West African countries.
The West Africa Task Force’s (WATF) initiative brings together the six member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), to tackle illegal fishing and stop the trade in illegally caught fish.