West African anti-IUU initiative recruits new coordinator
The implementation of one of Africa’s major fisheries governance projects has received a major boost with the successful recruitment of Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu to coordinate a key component of the sub-regional initiative.
The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea Programme for Improved Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa (FCWC-PESCAO) has successfully recruited Baidoo-Tsibu, formerly a regional director with Ghana’s Fisheries Commission, to coordinate activities at the Regional Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre. The centre monitors all fishing vessels flagged or licensed by the FCWC member states, comprising of six coast countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo.
The four-year FCWC-PESCAO initiative is scheduled to run through 2022. It supports the fishing vessel monitoring system with financing from the European Union and technical support from the European Fisheries Control Agency, Trygg Mat Tracking, and AGRER. The initiative has a current budget of EUR 1.2 million (USD 1.4 million) from the European Union.
“We are delighted to have Mr Godfrey Baidoo-Tsibu as the RMCSC Coordinator and remain confident that he will bring his experience and competence to ensure that the objective of monitoring vessels in the region is achieved,” FCWC Secretary-General Seraphin Dedi said.
Baidoo-Tsibu’s first priority will be to work with fisheries agencies in respective member-states in the implementation of recommendations on tackling illegal fishing that has been blamed for West Africa’s increasing poverty levels among fishing communities currently grappling with depleted fish stocks, Dedi said.
The RMCSC works to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through a data-driven effort. Primarily, it uses data from a regional vessel monitoring system using automatic identification system (AIS) information, combined with visual data and the monitoring of the position, speed, direction and activity of registered fishing vessels and support vessels, to monitor fishing in the region.
Furthermore, RMCSC supports the FCWC member-states’ tracking and monitoring of fishing activities across the West African coast, where an estimated seven million people rely on fishing for income but where illegal fishing has resulted in reduced fish stocks.
According a report from The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) industrial fleets in the West African coast “often illegally, target areas that are otherwise reserved for small-scale fishers and their communities.”
“Illegal fishing is worth USD 2.3 billion [EUR 2 billion] in the waters of six of the seven countries constituting the sub-region of northwest Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone), accounting for up to 20 percent of the global loss from illegal fishing,” ICSF said.
Photo courtesy of Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea