The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) held its thirteenth meeting of the West Africa Task Force (WATF) at the Azalai Hotel, in Cotonou, Benin, from 8 – 10 November 2022 to further improve fisheries cooperation in the region.
The regional fisheries meeting participants included representatives from FCWC member States’ Fisheries ministries, the WATF Technical Team (comprising the FCWC Secretariat, Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and TMT), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), International Labour Organization (ILO) and observers such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Oceans 5, Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), and the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) representatives of Sierra Leone and Cameroon.
The three-day meeting was opened by M. Toko ABDOULAYE, on behalf of the Benin’s Director de Cabinet M. Dossa AGUEMON, in the presence of FCWC Secretary-General, Mr. Seraphin Dedi, ECOWAS-PESCAO Technical Assistant Team Lead, Dr. Amadou Tall, and TMT Executive Director, Mr. Duncan Copeland.
Mr. Dedi, in opening remarks, stated that the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa project was among other things a catalyst for the FCWC’s strategic partnership with the European Union and ECOWAS, by making it eligible for the Improved Regional Fisheries Governance in West Africa project (PESCAO). He emphasized that the partnership had produced convincing results: the establishment of the regional MCS center and the signature of a tripartite MoU between ECOWAS, FCWC and SRFC.
Dr. Tall in a speech read on behalf of ECOWAS’s Director of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Alain Sy Traore, reinforced that through the tripartite MoU, ECOWAS has accepted the regional fisheries bodies, both the FCWC and SRFC as technical arms, supporting them with different measures including the allocation of funds to contribute to the fight against IUU.
The meeting’s discussions included: port State measures implementation and other operational technical activities; the results of the MCS capacity assessment; the activities of the Regional MCS centre, including the suite of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that have been developed for its operations; the sustainable structure and financing mechanisms for the FCWC; and the preparations for a third phase of the WATF. Key outcomes of the meeting include the welcoming of the one-year cost extension of the Norad project ‘Fisheries intelligence and MCS support in West Africa Phase II’; prioritisation of decent working conditions in fisheries in the next phase of WATF; the validation of the FCWC future structure and finance mechanism document and the Regional MCS centre’s SOPs; further integration of countries’ VMS systems with the regional VMS; and the establishment of a baseline matrix of the countries’ MCS capacity.