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Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance Centre launches in West Africa

Regional Monitoring Control and Surveillance Centre launches in the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) region

Illegal fishing and associated crime occurs in all jurisdictions – both within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of countries, and on the high seas. Illegal operators maximise profit by exploiting loopholes and weaknesses in international enforcement capacity and law - including vessel flag and name jumping, use of shell-companies, exploitation of low-income countries, and crimes outside of fisheries law such as document forgery and crew exploitation.

Globally there are gaps in both regional cooperation between countries, and inter-agency cooperation at the national level which leads to a piecemeal approach to the investigation of fisheries related crimes.

Recently in West Africa however, significant effort has been made to tackle these gaps and challenges including the establishment of mechanisms to strengthen regional cooperation, build capacity and provide resources to support enforcement actions.

The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) is an intergovernmental body that was established in 2007, with a Secretariat hosted in Tema, Ghana. The FCWC facilitates cooperation in fisheries management between its member countries - Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria - which have shared fish stocks and identified a need for cooperation and shared management of these resources.

In 2015, in response to the high levels of illegal fishing in the region, the West Africa Task Force (WATF) was formed as the MCS arm of the FCWC. The WATF brings together the six member countries to tackle illegal fishing through fisheries enforcement cooperation. 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 Norad. By establishing regular intelligence sharing, regional cooperation, national inter-agency cooperation and strengthened personnel capacity in the Member States, the WATF has laid the foundation for longer term and sustained regional cooperation, and increased fisheries compliance, in the FCWC region.

As such, TMT is proud to now be supporting the launch and operations of the FCWC Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC), for monitoring fishing and related activities in the Gulf of Guinea.

The RMCSC builds on the West Africa Task Force as an important next step in regional cooperation and is a key development in FCWC efforts to combat illegal fishing in the region.

The Regional MCS Centre develops and supports:

• Vessel monitoring and analysis to support coordinated efforts of fisheries inspection at port and at sea.

• An up to date and easy to access Regional Record of Authorised Fishing Vessels.

• Regional and joint at-sea patrols, to identify vessels operating illegally, without authorisation, or in contravention of national or regional conservation and management measures.

• A regional Observer Programme. Observers on fishing vessels provide first-hand scientific and compliance information.

• Training and capacity building to support national and regional capacity for MCS.

The RMCSC is equipped with vessel tracking systems including a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and Automatic Identification System (AIS). For countries that have national maritime domain awareness systems, these will be linked to the regional system. For those countries that do not have this capacity, they will be provided direct access to the regional systems. By pooling and analyzing information, working in a collaborative manner, promoting cooperation with relevant regional and national authorities, and building capacity the RMCSC will seek to address major national, regional and global challenges in stopping illegal fishing and related fisheries crimes.

Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu_Coordinator of RMCSC (c) Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea

Seraphin Dedi, Secretary-General of the FCWC says: ‘The establishment of our Regional MCS Centre fulfils a number of long sought-after goals, including: to improve national and regional capacity in fisheries enforcement; greater information-sharing; to reduce costs to Member States; and to increase oversight of vessel activity to addresses global challenges in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and related fisheries crimes. The RMCSC’s establishment brings us a step closer to having coordinated approaches to joint action, including patrols for better security in the maritime domain of our region.’

Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu_Coordinator of RMCSC (c) Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea

Duncan Copeland, Executive Director of TMT: ‘We are very pleased to see the realisation of the FCWC Regional MCS Centre, which builds on the foundation of the FCWC West Africa Task Force and is an important further step towards ensuring long term and effective regional fisheries enforcement cooperation. We’re very much looking forward to continuing to lend our analytical and technical support to the RMCSC and the FCWC Member States to ensure that the tools and capacity that it represents can be best utilised to target illegal fishing operations in the sub-region and beyond.’

Launch Events 12th and 13th May 2021

The RMCSC will be launched with a two-day hybrid event (in person and online) chaired by the current FCWC Chairperson, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries for Benin, M. Gaston Dossouhoui; and the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Ghana, H.E Diana Acconcia; in the presence of Ghana’s Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson.

Participants include representatives of the member countries, technical and financial partners, international civil society, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders.

To register to participate in the launch events click here.

A virtual technical panel discussion on the 13th May will demonstrate the contribution of the RMCSC contribution to strengthening coordination in the fight against IUU in the FCWC area through collaboration with partners and other stakeholders.

The panel discussions will be organized around three thematic areas

i) RMCSC in support of policy and fisheries management implementation in West Africa, ii) Synergies and partnerships in combating IUU and iii) RMCSC in support of capacity building in fighting IUU.

The panels will be led by fisheries experts from various backgrounds who will provide insight on how the Centre will be able to fulfil its purpose and complement the already existing cooperation tools.

For further information, please visit


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