Four African nations and a regional fisheries organization are harnessing new technology to strengthen port controls and combat illegal fishing.
The international nonprofits, Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking are partnering with Senegal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea in a pilot project to provide authorities with satellite tracking data, analysis and training needed to assess a fishing vessel’s recent operations and compliance risk.
The collaboration will better position port authorities and fisheries officials to monitor the movements of fishing and carrier vessels, identify activity that may indicate an elevated risk of illegal behavior, and target inspections and enforcement where they are needed most.
“Implementing strong port controls is the best and most effective opportunity to ensure that illegal catch has no market, and illegal fishing operators are cut off from their profits,” said Duncan Copeland, Executive Director of Trygg Mat Tracking.
“To do so requires the ability to make rapid risk assessments to inform the key decisions on whether to let a vessel into port, and where to target inspections. We are very pleased to be adding this new port control focus to our cooperation with Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea, towards building the tools, data, routines and capacity needed to effectively implement the Port State Measures Agreement in East and West Africa.”
Representatives from the four partner countries, West Africa’s Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea, regional experts, Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking will convene the project’s first steering committee meeting Nov. 9-10, 2021, hosted by the Senegal Fisheries Protection and Surveillance Directorate, in Senegal’s coastal city of Saly.
Attendees will discuss challenges and opportunities surrounding the implementation of the Agreement on Port State Measures—an initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations designed to deter and prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing—and ways to use emerging technology to strengthen port controls.
Illegal fishing in East and West Africa is a well-documented challenge, involving vessels from all over the world. Ports are often the last checkpoint where fish can be clearly linked to the vessel that caught it, and they offer one of the best and most cost-effective opportunities to identify and deter illegal fishing.
“We are pleased to offer support to Senegal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea as they step forward to address Africa’s serious problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Tony Long, Chief Executive Officer of Global Fishing Watch.
“African nations are aware of the grave threat illegal activity off their shores presents to their livelihoods and food security. Support for the landmark Agreement on Port State Measures has been promising and significant among the continent’s coastal States since the agreement came into force in 2016, and with easy-to-access technology and training to use it, African States can better defend their fisheries for generations to come.”
Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking will introduce Vessel Viewer, a new fishing vessel history tool developed by the two organizations that provides information on a vessel’s identity, fishing activity, port visits and transshipments.
This allows users to identify and cross-check relevant, absent or false information about a given vessel and its fishing operations to inform risk-based decision-making and operational planning.
“As the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea looks to consolidate and extend the achievements of sub-regional cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing, and for maritime safety, we welcome the support of Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking in this pilot project to support our Member States Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement,” said Seraphin Dedi, Secretary-General of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea.
“The success of this program will help the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea to adopt this methodology for harmonized fisheries and vessel inspections in ports of this region.”
The pilot project is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Oak Foundation and Norad.