The Indian Ocean as well as The Gulf of Guinea are home to abundant fish resources that sustain a thriving fishing industry, which in turn supports local economies and provides food and jobs in the region and abroad. These resources also fuel some of the world’s illegal fishing hot‐spots.
In late 2012, the FISH‐i Africa Task Force was formed to strengthen operational actions against illegal operators in the fishery sector. Seven countries form the TaskForce – Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania. This alliance is demonstrating that regional cooperation, information and intelligence sharing, coupled with dedicated data analysis, technical advice and strong political motivation, can slowly but surely turn illegal fishing into a high risk/low reward business instead of the low risk/high reward business that it has been for so long.
The FISH-I Africa Task Force meeting, held in Kenya on 2nd June, was attended by Mr. Seraphin DEDI, Secretary General of Fisheries Committee for West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), who had been invited to observe the operation of the Task Force and to consider ways to strengthen cooperation between FISH-i Africa and the newly formed West Africa Task Force, established for the 6 FCWC countries of Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria in April 2015.
Mr. DEDI presented the West Africa Task Force, an initiative aiming to build on, and operationalize existing regional arrangements to combat illegal fishing, such as the FCWC Regional Plan of Action to Combat IUU fishing, as well as the conventions on minimum conditions of access to fisheries resources and the earlier convention on pooling together and information sharing in fisheries sector in west Africa.
Opportunities for further collaboration between FISH-I Africa and the West Africa Task Force were discussed with potential for cooperation in Information sharing, exchanges of personnel and training, collaboration on cases, shared positions on issues at the international level and sharing of best practices.
The Technical team members (TMT, Stop Illegal Fishingand NFDS) and participants of Eastern Africa countries attending the meeting considered the proposed options and approved the initiative as ways forward to achieve the common goal to stop illegal fishing.
Dr. Aboubacar Sidibe, the African Union – IBAR representative, presenting to FISH-I Africa, highlighted the need for increased coordination in the fisheries sector, a key pillar of the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism and its Working Group to combat IUU fishing at the pan African level, and further encouraged all potential future cooperation between the two TASK FORCES.