The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) Secretariat and the Technical Team supporting the West Africa Task Force (WATF) participated in the interagency National Working Group (NWG) meetings in Togo and Benin at their respective national Directorates of Fisheries. Togo’s NWG meeting was held in Lomé, Togo from 28 to 29 October 2019, while Benin’s was held from 30 to 31 October in Cotonou, Benin.
The NWG meetings brought representatives of national fisheries authorities together with various national agencies involved in the monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fisheries activities – including navy, police, port and maritime affairs – to increase their awareness of IUU fishing issues, its impact and various measures developed at the regional level to combat it. It was also an opportunity to review and provide support for the development of national measures and to facilitate communication, collaboration, and cooperation for effective fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance.
Both countries’ NWG meetings’ key discussions included presentation of the new Document Verification Manual that aims at providing tools to identify fraudulent practices; the draft National Plan of Action to Combat IUU fishing (NPOA-IUU) as recommended in the Regional Plan of Action; the establishment of the regional vessel monitoring center; a review of countries’ responsibilities and practical actions to take to be able to connect to the regional center; the feasibility and the establishment of a regional observer program; and most importantly the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).
As Togo and Benin are a party to the PSMA, the TT is working towards developing a roadmap for the implementation of the agreement at national level by reviewing national authorities’ port processes together and identifying how to improve them to ensure the countries comply with international standards. Both NWG meetings were declared a success by the countries that consider these meetings a pillar of inter-agency cooperation.