Source & Author: Stop Illegal Fishing
In a move designed to control Nigerian flagged fishing vessels Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Department of Fisheries has made it mandatory for all eligible national or state flagged fishing vessels to obtain and mark International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers on their vessels on or before the 1st of March 2017.
An IMO number is now part of the requirement for registration and licensing of a fishing vessel in Nigeria and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Federal Department of Fisheries are implementing agencies.
Bola Aduke Kupolati, Deputy Director Fisheries, Head of Monitoring Control and Surveillance, Nigeria welcomed the development. “We have already seen a rapid response to this change in regulation and about 120 out of the 155 licensed fishing vessels now have their IMO number marked on their vessels. This will enable better control of vessels flying our flag or fishing in our waters and help prevent the misuse of vessel identities to aid illegal fishing. We appreciate the support of the FCWC and West Africa Task Force for their efforts, support and contributions in this process.”
This move comes at a time when the application process for IMO numbers has been simplified to enable flag States to make fleet wide applications.
IMO numbers provide a unique identifier that stays with a fishing vessel for its operational life. The IMO number has been identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as crucial to their Global Record of Fishing Vessels, and as a tool that makes it more difficult for fishing vessels to operate outside the law. IHS is responsible for receiving applications and designating the IMO number, and in cooperation with Trygg Matt Tracking (TMT) have drawn up IMO application guidelines which are being used by Nigeria and can be found here in English and French.
Per Erik Bergh of Stop Illegal Fishing commented, “One of the major challenges in combatting illegal fishing is in verifying the identities of fishing vessels. At Stop Illegal Fishing we welcome all moves made to increase uptake of IMO numbers in the fishing sector and applaud Nigeria on this initiative.”