The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) in collaboration with Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), Stop Illegal Fishing and NFDS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has organised a training for the West Africa Task Force (WATF) in Accra, Ghana from 26th to 29th July 2016 within the framework of the project “Fisheries Intelligence and MCS support in West Africa” to tackle illegal fishing and fisheries crime.
The workshop which took place at the West Africa Regional Training Center in Accra, was supported by NOAA and NORAD on fisheries law enforcement and prosecution. The initiave aimed at building national and regional capacity to generate and analyse fisheries intelligence, activate monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) operations and develop cases that can then be prosecuted by legal teams of each of the countries. At least five participants of national agencies actively involved in fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance from each FCWC’s six member States namely Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Bénin and Nigeria were invited.
It was highlighted that illegal fishing was not just about catching fish illegally but there was more to it. Illegal fishing could also be linked to broader organised crime and transnational criminal activities taking place in seas and oceans such as tax evasion, corruption, human trafficking and human rights abuses, piracy, money laundering, forgery and fraud.
However, tackling illegal fishing and associated crimes must be subject to a stringent methodology in order to achieve successful results. This is undoubtedly the reason why participants were trained on prerequisites such as the collection and transmission of evidence, putting together a case package with supporting documents while liaising with prosecutors and the relevance of interagency cooperation. In other words, from the investigation process to the prosecution level, there should be a close collaboration between technical fisheries experts and legal specialists.
The legal experts were more thankful, "the programme was an opportunity for some of them to learn about the fisheries terminology’’, said Mrs Amonyiwah-Edusah, invited Judge from the Republic of Ghana. She added that the programme has therefore boosted her interest in knowing more about the fisheries sector and working more efficiently to do away with illegal fishing and other fisheries crimes.
Following the success of this first initiative, Mr Seraphin DEDI, Secretary general of the FCWC, expressed its gratitude to all partners involved in this regional training session and assured beneficiaries to explore further partnership with NOAA to support sustainability in our fisheries ressources management as it was noted there was a need for statistics on the loss undergone by each State in terms of IUU fishing for more commitment in the fight against this global threat.