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Joint training held in support of the FCWC West Africa Task Force

Accra/Tema, Ghana, 11-15 September 2017

Joint training on vessel bridge inspections and information cross-referencing held in support of the FCWC West Africa Task Force.

The training workshop was organised and implemented as a cooperation between the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), NOAA, and TMT representing the technical team supporting the West Africa Task Force, and follows on from a previous course on evidence collection jointly delivered by NOAA, TMT and Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) in July 2016.

The workshop was held at the Regional Training Centre in Accra, a training facility run by the U.S. Department of State, with practical sessions at the docks in Tema fishing port thanks to a fruitful collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD).

The course focussed on bridge inspections, including the extraction of data from bridge instruments, and vessel tracking systems; this focus was based on the request for capacity support by participating countries during West Africa Task Force meetings. Participants included 3 representatives from each of the six FCWC countries – Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria - as well as from Senegal and Sierra Leone.

In line with WATF efforts to strengthen inter-agency cooperation, participants came from not only fisheries departments, but also Navy and Maritime agencies as well.

Initial classroom session focused on vessel bridge navigational equipment and vessel tracking systems, how to extract information from those instruments during and after an inspection, and cross-reference with bridge documents and other sources of fishing operation information.

Participants were also trained on inspection procedures, with emphasis on the Port State Measures Agreement and relevant steps for implementation in the region.

During the two days at Tema fishing port, participants were split into mixed nationality and language groups and given access to different key locations along the docks (landing areas) and onboard two vessels (trawler and purse seiner) that had been made available for the training.

The port sessions were aimed at familiarizing participants with MCS operational priorities and risks for the different fishing vessels, and provided a practical and ‘live’ opportunity for participants to conduct inspections and extract information from navigational equipment and documents found on the bridge.

Back to the classroom for the last two days of the training course, students worked on specific desktop exercises and conducted virtual inspections, during which they were required to analyse various documents and vessel tracking information to identify potential violations.

Duncan Copeland, Chief Analyst of TMT, commented ‘this is the third year of close cooperation with NOAA on targeted training for the West Africa Task Force, and the most successful to date. Getting the bridge component of any inspection right is crucial, and it was excellent to see participants identifying how they could integrate the lessons learned into their routines in their home countries.

Much was learned also from the experience sharing between countries, which highlighted that there are still significant differences to legal frameworks and MCS capacity levels throughout the region.’

The West Africa Task Force is facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team that includes TMT and SIF with funding from Norad and NOAA.

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