By Gary Hatigeva
WITH a diverse amount of resources in its pocket, the West African regional fisheries body is looking at how best they can better manage and sustainably use their resources with effective measures and approaches.
Looking to the Pacific might just be the answer says Ibrahim Turay, Regional M&E Specialist for the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme, the Regional Coordination Unit (WARFP-RCU).
The West African Fisheries Programme is part of world fisheries agencies and commissions represented at the Pacific-Global Zone-based Tuna Fisheries Management Knowledge Exchange currently underway in Honiara.
In an exclusive interview yesterday, the Regional M&E Specialist for the WARFP-RCU it was only day one (yesterday) of the conference but their group has already picked out so much they intend to learn from and adopt.
The conference looks into the whole set up and operation of the Pacific Agency with detailed features, which includes the advent of enhanced aerial surveillance, new e-monitoring and satellite coverage, which has now given FFA members the ‘eyes in the sky’ to keep a close watch on fishing fleets in the region.
This was also something the West African group sees as another opportunity and positive learning area for not only them but so as the rest of the global fisheries bodies being represented at the summit.
“We are hoping to take back home the lessons learned and see how we can replicate them back home with the view of improving our management regime in West Africa.
“Back home, we are working on the same initiative, for instance, developing a regional registry and then also trying to put in place a Regional Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) to be able to monitor our waters properly.
“And we’ve been hearing good management and best practices from FFA and so we really want to come and have some of those experiences and their challenges and learn how those challenges are being dealt with.”
The FFA has been praised for its high standards and quality on how they have been managing and dealing with their members especially when it comes to using and managing their fisheries resources.
According to Turay, the FFA module has really pushed other fisheries agencies and commissions to step up their systems and this he said is evident with their West African Fisheries regime.
He said members of their sub-regional commission are now working to come together to cooperate and sustainably managing their resources and by participating in the learning exchange programme is vital for the intention to eventuate.
Other areas of discussion are based on assessing stocks and sustainability, securing market access and increasing local participation in the value-added onshore processing.
A centrepiece of the discussion will be the RoadMap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries endorsed by Island leaders in 2015.
The West African Fisheries Commission is mandated by nine countries in that region, some of which have the biggest fishing industries in Africa.
These countries include Cabo Verde, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana Liberia and Gambia.
In February 2017, FFA was also invited to participate in a similar lessons learned programme by the West African Sub-regional Fisheries Commission, with what has been described as impressive presentations.
“FFA was well represented during our learning exchange programme.
“We were so impressed with the management regime (system) that they are implementing here in the Pacific and that is what gave us the confidence and drive to come and be part of this one,” Mr Turay expressed.
Meanwhile, the West African Regional M&E Specialist on behalf of their group acknowledged FFA as an institution for inviting them to be part of this south-south cooperation initiative.
The also thanked FFA and its partners for not only for inviting them but also for providing interpretation services, which has helped most non-English speaking participants learn and understand in-depth of what have been presented.
“That’s a very good consideration on their part and we thank FFA and SPC for that,” the excited representatives added.