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Information Sharing and Strengthening Inter-agency Cooperation Benin

An inter-agency national working group meeting was held in Cotonou Benin, from the 9th to 10th November 2023 within the framework of the West Africa Task Force initiative.

The meeting focused on the broad cooperation among agencies and particularly the assessment of national mechanisms and processes in place which supports efforts to reduce illegal activities and improve the management of fisheries resources.

The workshop brough together representatives from the Maritime Affairs, Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC Zone E), Navy, Marine Police, Port authority, Fisheries Directorate, Préfecture Maritime, the Judicial services of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre of the Fisheries Directorate, Interpol, among others.

The meeting presented the unique opportunity for fisheries authorities to inform the other agencies on new measures in place particularly mechanisms to support the implementation of the Ports States, Measure Agreement (PSMA).

The agreement was reintroduced with an emphasis on the role of each of relevant agencies in the implementation of the provisions of the agreement.

It was noted that some Standard Operationnal Procedures (SOPs) have been drafted by the Préfecture Maritime from broad at sea operations, without taking into consideration fisheries activities needs, despite recommendations made to work in collaboration with the fisheries directorate.

Further, the current the Advanced Request,  for Entry to Port (AREPs) process in place needs to be improved considering that only the Port Authority receives the notifications and proceed to allow entry while fisheries department are only called after the vessels have docked at the port.

In addition, the drastic decrease in the number of foreign licenses was raised during the workshop which fisheries authorities attributed to more national patrols and an increased involvement of the Préfecture Maritime in fisheries activities.

Discussions around the integration of the provisions of the FAO voluntary guidelines on transshipment in national legislations and regulations were held, which recalled the current process of the revision of the FCWC regional transhipment strategy.

The workshop also included an introduction to the vessel Vessel Viewer, a mobile application developed by Global Fishing Watch and TMT, which aims at providing fisheries inspectors especially, with real time information on vessels, their identities, and operations.

This application will support the Intelligence-led fisheries Port Controls programme which will be officially rolled out in Benin during future workshops.

The National Working Group meeting was organised by the West Africa Task Force (WATF) and held under the auspices of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC).


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