Ghana signs pact with Togo, Benin to tackle IUU fishing
Three West African countries have forged a partnership to implement a joint fisheries’ observer program as part of their effort to ensure safe, secure, and legal fisheries are maintained across the Gulf of Guinea.
Ghana has signed a pact with Togo and Benin to carry out the joint monitoring of the countries’ fisheries, including sharing intelligence supplied by the Regional Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Centre (RMCSC) that was created in the first quarter of 2021 by Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), whose membership include Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo.
Although Cote d’Ivoire is expected to be part of the pact, the country did not sign at the same time as the other three countries – all of them members of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Ghana’s joint fisheries monitoring pact came shortly after the successful conclusion of the 13th session of the Conference of Ministers of the FCWC – held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on 17 December, 2021 – where participants emphasized the need for a closer working relationship to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Ghana courted Togo and Benin shortly after the two countries carried out their first sub-regional joint patrol operation, dubbed “Isaac Gatorwu,” with the financial backing of the European Union’s Improved Regional Fisheries Governance (PESCAO) project.
Other partners involved in the joint fishery observer mission include Abidjan-based Regional Center for Maritime Security of West Africa (CRESMAO), European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCC) Zones E and F, and Trygg Mat Tracking with Norad funding.
The move comes after reports by the Environmental Justice Foundation found the country’s inshore fishery is facing an imminent collapse, largely as a result of illegal fishing. Ghana has frequently grappled with the practice of “saiko,” in which small canoes transfer catch from large trawlers.
“Severe overcapacity of the trawl fleet combined with the illegal practice of ‘saiko’ – where industrial trawlers illegally target the staple catch of small-scale fishers and transfer it to specially adapted boats at sea – is driving the collapse of Ghana’s inshore fishery,” the EJF wrote.
Ghana, which imports nearly 50 percent of the seafood it consumes, is now working with agencies and organizations, including the E.U., to tackle problems related to illegal fishing, according to FCWC Secretary General Seraphin Deli. Deli said the joint fisheries monitoring initiative is an indication the participating countries are keen on ensuring sustainable harvesting of available fisheries resources within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional political and economic union of 15 West African countries.
Photo courtesy of FCWC