Tema, Ghana (October 25, 2022) - The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), is organising its thirteenth meeting of the West Africa Task Force, from 08-10 November 2022, in Cotonou, Benin.
The West AfricaTask Force (WATF) was established in 2015 under the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa project funded by Norad and has operationalised key regional and international instruments to combat IUU fishing. It has strengthened regional information-sharing and cooperation between countries; interagency cooperation at the national level; and enforcement actions triggered by intelligence analysis and intelligence-sharing.
The thirteenth Task Force meeting will bring together Directors of Fisheries, national Heads of Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS), and the WATF Technical Team comprising the FCWC Secretariat, Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and TMT, to share national-level updates, discuss issues relating to their regional-level cooperation in fisheries, and develop the 2023 operational and capacity development work plans.
Observers attending the meeting include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Friends of The Nation (FoN), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), International Labour Organization (ILO), Regional Fisheries Commission for the Gulf of Guinea (COREP), Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the fisheries ministries of Sierra Leone and Cameroon.
Key discussions for this meeting include planning activities under the one-year Norad funding extension of the WATF; the evolution of the FCWC’s institutional structure and funding mechanisms; integrating the WATF and Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC); ongoing technical assistance to Member State implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA); and the voluntary guidelines on transhipment adopted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“At the regional level, standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Regional MCS centre and the subregional observer program have been developed, and there are commitments to cooperate bilaterally on joint patrols and fisheries management measures such as closed seasons. As the established mechanism for information-sharing at both regional and national levels (via the National Working Group meetings), the WATF meeting is where these changes and updates will be discussed more deeply to ensure that operationalizing and implementing follow-up actions happens more fluidly” FCWC Secretary-General Seraphin Dedi stated.
The WATF brings togetherthe six member countries of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo – to tackle illegal fishingand stop the trade in illegally caught fish. The Task Force is facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team that includes TMT and Stop Illegal Fishing with funding from the Norwegian Cooperation Agency (Norad). Through active cooperation, information sharing and facilitating the operations of national interagency working groups, the West Africa Task Force is working together to stop illegal fishing.