A regional workshop on strengthening monitoring, control and surveillance to effectively combat, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Central Africa was jointly organized by the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), la Commission Régionale des Pêches du Golfe de Guinea (COREP), with support from the European Union, in Pointe Noire, the Republic of Congo, from 17th to 21st February 2017.
The overall objective of the meeting was to identify priority actions and mechanisms for establishing effective regional cooperation for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of fisheries and implementation of International Instruments. The specific objectives were to (i) examine reports on the status of MCS and International Instruments in Central Africa for adoption and validation, (ii) identify challenges and constraints for regional cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing, (iii) propose a framework for regional and sub-regional collaboration on MCS, and (iv) develop a roadmap for the establishing and strengthening of a regional coordination Cell (or Unit) of MCS in the Central Africa.
The meeting was attended by over 45 participants including Directors of Fisheries and MCS Experts from Central African coastal states (Cameroun, Gabon, Congo Rep., Congo Democratic Rep., Sao Tomé & Principe, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola), COREP, experts and African Union staff.
The opening ceremony was marked by three statements from the AU-IBAR, COREP and Republic of Congo. Dr Simplice Nouala, Head of Animal Production Unit, on behalf of the Director of AU-IBAR, Professor Ahmed Sawalhy, welcomed the participants to the regional workshop and noted that the level of participation signifies their commitment to fighting IUU fishing in the region. On behalf of the Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission and the Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission he further expressed gratitude to the Government and people of the Republic of Congo for the opportunity and the institutional collaboration with ECCAS Region in organizing this event in Pointe Noire, Congo. He reminded the participants that one of the expected outcomes of this meeting is to strengthen the institutional capacity of MCS system for an effective fight against IUU fishing. He reiterated AU-IBAR’s commitment to combating IUU and enumerated some of the activities AU-IBAR has carried out in respect of strengthening the capacity of MCS in various regions of the continent. Mr Emile Essema, the Executive Secretary of COREP expressed gratitude for the joint organization of this workshop in the Central African region. He acknowledged that the workshop came at a crucial time when the rampant activities of IUU are threatening the livelihoods of millions of citizens in this region and the fisheries resources. He informed the participants of the importance of the fisheries sector in food security, employment and revenue generation and he undesired the need of regional concerted effort in arresting this menace in Central African waters.
The official opening of the workshop was performed by His Excellence Henri DJOMBO, Minister of State for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Republic of Congo. He welcomed the participants to the meeting and expressed his sincere appreciation for the opportunity given to Republic of Congo to host this important event on strengthening MCS to effectively combat IUU fishing. He expressed gratitude to African Union Commission (AUC) and the EU for the collaboration and contribution to the effort in enhancing fisheries management in the Central African region. He described the threats posed to fisheries management due mainly to poor management practices and ever increasing incidences of IUU. He lamented over the sheer scale of fish importation into Congo and underscored the need for the country to be self-sufficient. He outlined the strides taken by the Congolese Government in the fight against IUU, the revision of the country’s sea fisheries act and promotion of inter-agency collaboration in the fight against IUU.
The main outcome of the meeting was the identification of priority areas and plan of action for combating IUU with respect to the following thematic areas in matters of MCS:
- Clear insight into of the current status of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Systems in Member States of Central Africa.
- Identification of strategic areas for strengthening MCS systems in Member States and regional cooperation at short, medium and long-term.
- A consensus and roadmap for the framework of regional collaboration for the combat against IUU fishing.
The capacities of Directors of fisheries or their representatives, personnel in charge of MCS, legal personnel and naval officers of the countries in Central Africa were strengthened on:
- Responsibilities of flag, port and coastal in combating IUU.
- Fishing vessel boarding and inspection procedures, enforcement and prosecution procedures.