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Illegal Fishing: FCWC to hold international fisheries meeting in Lagos  

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AS part of efforts to end the scourge of illegal fishing in the West and Central Gulf of Guinea, the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) on Thursday announced plans to hold its twelfth meeting of the West Africa Task Force (WATF), in Lagos, Nigeria.

The meeting is scheduled to hold from May 10 to May 12 with participants from the six member countries. They include Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo.

Discussions at the international conference would focus on the sustainability of the regional monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) Centre.

According to the regional body’s press statement sent to The ICIR, the West Africa Task Force (WATF) was established in 2015 under the Fisheries Intelligence and MCS Support in West Africa project funded by the Norwegian Agency for International Development (Norad).

It has operationalised key regional and international instruments to combat IUU fishing. It has also strengthened regional information-sharing and cooperation between countries, interagency cooperation at the national level, and enforcement actions triggered by intelligence analysis and intelligence-sharing.

Reports say the gulf of guinea loses about $2 billion annually to illegal fishing. The trend has also denied rural communities whose source of livelihood is fishery their major source of income.

However, participants at the meeting are expected to prepare for a regional fishery closed season and observer program.

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Also, launch of the FCWC Transhipment report; the harmonisation of licensing conditions; regional steps to implement port State measures; and planning of joint fisheries patrols in the region.

“A regional approach in fisheries management especially for MCS activities has been the central activity of FCWC in the West Africa region,” FCWC Secretary-General Seraphin Dedi stated.

“It is therefore important to bring as many stakeholders as possible to the table to discuss and agree on an approach that maximizes our collective efforts through further communication, collaboration, and cooperation.”

It emphasised the commitment of the six-member nation to tackling illegal fishing and ending the trade in illegally caught fish.

Other participants expected at the meeting would include Directors of Fisheries and heads of monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) to share national level updates.

The participants are expected to also discuss regional cooperation and collaboration in MCS enforcement actions.

Representatives of partners attending the meeting would include the African Union Inter-Bureau on Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Friends of The Nation (FoN), Global Fishing Watch (GFW), International MCS Network, Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the fisheries ministries of Sierra Leone and Cameroon.

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It is worthy of note that the Task Force is facilitated by the FCWC Secretariat and supported by a Technical Team that includes TM-Tracking (TMT) and Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) 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.

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Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at oadanikin@icirnigeria.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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