Source & Author: Stop Illegal Fishing
The new report The West Africa Task Force: Cooperation. Collaboration. Communication provides an insight into the establishment and operation of the West Africa Task Force.
Established in 2015, the West Africa Task Force (WATF) brings together the 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 fishing and stop the trade in illegally caught fish.
Through the routine sharing and cross checking of information, analysis of vessel tracking information and through capacity building the WATF has engaged in a range of activities and investigations. This report highlights of some of the enforcement actions, investigations and reforms that highlight the growing cooperation between and within the National Working Groups.
Speaking on the launch of the report, Seraphin Dedi Nadje, Secretary General of the FCWC stated, “The WATF has built on the existing commitments, structure and cooperation provided by the FCWC. By delivering an active platform to operationalise existing information sharing agreements stronger connections and relationships have been built between members and consequently more effective enforcement action is resulting.”
The positive effects of the WATF are being felt throughout the region. Duncan Copeland, Trygg Mat Tracking commented “as communication has improved, new cooperation has been established nationally, regionally and internationally, the collaborative approach is focusing effort and energy, and capacity building is improving interventions.”
The WATF has been based on the same principles of regional cooperation and information sharing that has proved so successful for the FISH-i Africa Task Force in the Western Indian Ocean. Sandy Davies, Stop Illegal Fishing, commented, “It is great to see the lessons learned from FISH-i being used in other regions around the world. The FCWC region is a significant importer, exporter and processor of fish so stopping illegal fishing there requires an additional focus on the processing, trade and transportation of fish in and out of the region.”
A key element of the WATF has been the establishment of interagency working groups at the national level. Per Erik Bergh, NFDS Africa stated, “The increase in interagency cooperation that has taken place through the establishment of National Working Groups has been significant. By bringing the key players together, raising awareness and establishing communication channels much has been achieved.”
The report marks the end of the first phase of the WATF, with a second phase hoped to start later in 2017. “Using our Cooperation, Collaboration, Communication approach, the West Africa Task Force has made significant progress in the fight against illegal fishing in the FCWC region during the three years of its activity. This has been made possible through the hard work and contributions of partners, the technical team and members of the Task Force. We, therefore, look forward to further collaboration to ensure the continued success of the FCWC and the WATF,” explained the Secretary General of the FCWC, Seraphin Dedi Nadje.