From 16 to 17 November 2023, in the framework of the regional Programme PESCAO (2018-2023), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), organised a closing seminar in Dakar to present and discuss the results of the Programme for improved regional fisheries governance in West Africa, PESCAO, funded by the European Union.
During the two-day seminar, the main results achieved, and the lessons learned were presented to a large audience. The representatives of the three PESCAO Components (DEMERSTEM, ECOWAS, EFCA, FAO-CECAF, FCWC, GREPPAO, and SRFC) as well as 13 PESCAO beneficiary countries (Benin, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), and EU Delegations attended and participated actively in this event.
In the framework of the first Component of PESCAO, the ECOWAS representative presented the outcomes in relation to the improvement of a Western African fisheries and aquaculture policy, as well as the strengthened level of coordination of the regional stakeholders.
The second Component was dedicated to the “Improvement of prevention and responses to IUU fishing through strengthened monitoring, control and surveillance at national and regional levels” was discussed over two panels. EFCA, the beneficiary regional fisheries bodies (Subregional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) and Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC)), and several country representatives presented the results achieved during the past 6 years.
The first panel drew on the activities related to the harmonisation and alignment of fisheries legal frameworks, as well as inter-agency and regional cooperation support, highlighting the drafting of 10 legal texts in 4 countries, the organisation of two workshops on interagency cooperation, and the drafting of 2 MoUs, to name but a few.
The second panel was dedicated to the operational support to the fight against IUU fishing, namely the organisation of joint fisheries patrols and the setting-up of a regional fisheries monitoring centre, as well as to training and capacity building in fisheries monitoring, control, and surveillance. It is worth noting that 17 joint patrols have been organised or contributed to in the framework of PESCAO. It is also worth noting that in terms of capacity building 41 training were organised and 766 officials benefited from EFCA PESCAO training activities with very high level of satisfaction.
Several organisations and initiatives with a key role in the PESCAO Programme Component 3 also attended the seminar, namely DEMERSTEM, FAO-CECAF, and GREPPAO, to present the objectives achieved and the way forward regarding marine resources conservation and management at the regional level.
To close the seminar, the EU representative presented the upcoming EU-funded Programme, West Africa Sustainable Ocean Programme (WASOP), that will not only ensure the continuity and sustainability of PESCAO objectives, but also contribute to the blue economy in the region, from 2024 onwards.
EFCA is a European Union agency. The agency’s mission is to promote the highest common standards for control, inspection, and surveillance under the European Union Common Fisheries Policy. The EFCA functions at the highest level of excellence and transparency with a view to developing the necessary confidence and cooperation of all parties involved and, in so doing, to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional political and economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa (including the 13 PESCAO countries supported by the PESCAO Programme, Burkina Faso and Mali). The aim of the Community is to promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its people, and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among Member States, and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent.
The PESCAO Programme aims, amongst other objectives, at improving regional fisheries governance in Western Africa to fight illegal fishing, and to maintain healthy fish stocks in a region of the world where fishing remains one of the main sources of protein and livelihoods, therefore alleviating poverty and improving food security.