18-20 February 2016 - Abuja, Nigeria. A training workshop on strengthening capacity in fishing vessel boarding, inspection, enforcement and prosecution procedures for effectively combating, deterring and eliminating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa was jointly organized by the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) , with support from the European Union, in Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 15-17 February, 2016.
The overall objective of the meeting was to strengthen and /or build the capacity of relevant holders in countries of West Africa in MCS issues, including fishing vessel boarding, inspection, enforcement and prosecution to effectively combat IUU fishing in the region.
The training workshop was officially declared open by Dr. Simplice Nouala, the AU-IBAR Chief Animal production Officer on behalf of the Director of AU-IBAR, Professor Ahmed El-Sawalhy. The training was conducted by Mr. Kwame Mfodwo, Fisheries Technical Assistant to AU-IBAR under the Fisheries Governance project and Dr, Mary Ann Palma Robles, Visiting Senior Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, Australia.
The workshop was attended by about 70 participants comprising mainly of Directors of Fisheries, Heads of MCS Units, personnel from the Judiciary and naval divisions in West African coastal states (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire) , representatives from ECOWAS, SubRegional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) , Fisheries Committee for West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA), Indian Ocean Commission, European Union, Ministerial Conference of Countries Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), Non-state actors, experts and African Union staff.
Participants at the workshop undertook a three day training exercise which introduced them to (1) a plan based framework for combating IUU fishing at regional and national level; (2) a plan based approach to implementing the EU IUU Regulation; (2) key elements of the prosecution process against IUU fishing. The exercise was highly practical and included both a simulation exercise and the viewing of training videos based on actual IUU events in the West African region. Participants also exchanged information with respect to recent apprehension and prosecutions of IUU fishing vessels in the region. They analysed these situations and lessons learnt for the future from these experiences.
The main outcome of the training workshop was capacity strengthening in the following areas:
- Fishing vessel boarding, inspection procedures
- Fisheries enforcement and prosecution procedures
- Relevant international instruments and MCS tools (e.g. Port and flag states measures, United Nations Convention of the law of the Seas)
- Vessel register and observer scheme
- Sub-Regional and Regional Cooperation and Collaboration for MCS
- Issues of Legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks, sovereignty in matters of MCS
- Mechanism for sustainable financial for MCS