By Bill W. Cooper
The Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Madam Emma Glassco has called on member states of the fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) for a stronger collaboration in order to successfully combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
According to her, there is an urgent need to intensify efforts beyond national level to form collaborations in combating IUU fishing activities, stressing that it is urging for member-states to form synergies in any event that may warrant hot pursuit against IUU fishing vessel.
She made the call when she spoke at the start of a three-day West Africa Task Force (WATE) 9th Meeting of the FCWC at the Kendeja Resort Hotel on the E.L.W.A Robertsfield Highway.
The NaFAA boss indicated that it’s time for stronger collaboration in the areas of formulating regional observers program, conduct regional joint patrol and harmonization of vessel monitoring system as well as establishing a regional vessel registry.
“It is incumbent upon all member-states as flag states, port states, market states and coastal states to ensure that this program becomes achievable considering the fact that FCWC has evolved beyond infancy stage and must embark on initiatives, take up challenges and responsibilities amidst international support in ensuring that our region is free of fisheries and fisheries related crimes, she alluded.
Explaining further, the Director General noted that international binding and voluntary fisheries instruments provide the basis and legal framework in the fight against IUU and other fisheries-related crimes, pointing out that many nations including some member states not excluding Liberia are yet to conform to some of these instruments including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the United Nations Fish Stock Agreement, the Agreement on Port State Measures (PSMA).
Madam Glassco then lauded the FCWC family on behalf of the government for granting the country the opportunity to host what she termed as all-meaningful meeting, while at the same time, expressed similar to the funding partners including the European Union (EU) for the PESCAO project–(Improving Fisheries Governance in West Africa) and the Norwegian Government (NORAD) for the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa.
Earlier, the FCWC Secretary General, Seraphin Dedi lauded the NaFAA Boss and the government for granting the FCWC and its partners to organize the 9th West Africa Task Force (WATE) meeting in the country.
According to the Secretary Dedi, the problems and challenges that migrating fish create in the region are multi-sector and trans-boundary in character and therefore need the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in the sub-region in order to be tackle.
He added that the West African region has high incidents of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and its associated trade in illicit drugs, alarming that Foreign vessels are not only poaching their fish but also using their waters as transit routes for their trade in hard drugs.
“It is the spirit of the aforementioned facts that WATE is established to bring together MS, joint their effort and participate actively in combatting IUU fishing and associated crimes. After four years of running of this project, we have demonstrated that collaboration, cooperation and communication, combating illegal fishing and associated crimes can be effective,” FCWC SG added.
“Our ambition now is to market the WATE model to our institutions (ECOWAS and AU, development partners EU, JICA and also neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Cameroon and organizations-COREP and CSRP as part of efforts to implement the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy and United Nation SDG14, SG Dedi alluded.
Remarking also, TMT Executive Director Duncan Copeland noted that the FCWC and the WATF had made excellent progress in its first three years, adding that in the past few months, they have had the most active period of communication and cooperation within the Task Force since its founding in 2015.
He then added that their objective as a technical team for the meeting as always is to identify clear and concrete activities that can be taken forward by the Task Force at the regional and international levels, while at the same time lauded the government for hosting the Task Force 9th meeting.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Committee for West and Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) was established in 2007 to facilitate cooperation in fisheries management between the member countries, Liberia, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. These countries have several shared fish stocks and identified a need for cooperation and shared management of these resources.
This is the first time Liberia is hosting the West Africa Task Force (WATE) meeting of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), having hosted the Ministerial Conference in 2016, but this markets 9th meeting of the think tank of experts and technicians who proliferate the first against illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU).