ECOWAS rallies West Africa to tackle IUU fishing

Protest against illegal fishing in Copenhagen (PHOTO: WWF)
Protest against illegal fishing in Copenhagen (PHOTO: WWF)

14 West African countries including Nigeria have agreed to tackle  illegal, unregulated and unreported (‎IUU) fishing activities while and ensure safety along their coast.

This was made known in Abuja on Tuesday at the Opening Ceremony of  the “2nd Regional Steering Committee Meeting of ECOWAS Marine THEMA  Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) with the Theme “Enhancing the Use of Earth Observation to support Fisheries Management and Safety at Sea in Western Africa”

Represented by Aderemi Abioye of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria said “the partnership through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was to build platforms for collaborations and partnerships with other African countries in the West African regions to harmonise our regulations and monitor the operations of fishing vessels across the region.”

Abioye added that  as part of  efforts to meet the nations fish demands “the federal ministry of agriculture  is  promoting aqua -culture, accommodating new investment in fish production( using different technologies) encouraging and empowering  artisanal fishermen  to be able to produce fish from rivers, lagoons lakes and all inland waters in the country”.

Nigeria highlighted ECOWAS assistance in “helping to use Earth Observation Data (EOD) to be able to monitor marine waters and provide security fishing vessels and their operators and also ensure the protection of the environment in the Coastal waters of Nigeria and West Africa.”

Speaking on the challenges of fishery in Nigeria , Abioye said “fishery which formed about 4% of total GDP was challenged by the cost of oil bunkering, operation costs of vessels, piracy”, further assuring  that the department in collaboration with security agencies was working to ensure safety of fishing vessels across the waterways”

Also speaking in his keynote address Provost, University of Ghana Prof. Ebenezer Owusu said “the goal of the workshop is to help curb illegal unregulated and unreported fishing activities using satellite imagery as global losses due to IUU or pirate fishing which are estimated to be between USD $10b  and US $23.5b annually”

He revealed that “West Africa waters are estimated to have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the World, representing up to 37% of the regions catch. Adding that in addition to economic losses pirate fishing in West Africa severely compromises the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities”

ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr Lapodini Atouga , Represented by the Director Environment Dr Johnson Boanuh  in his welcome address said the project has a 4 year life span of which a year had been expended.

He charged participants to constantly keep in view the global objective of the project which is to increase information management, decision making and planning capacity for coastal and marine resources management, by enhancing access to and exploitation of relevant EO data.

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