The 5th FISH-i Africa Task Force meeting, being held from 14 to 16 June 2016 at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa in Roche Noires, is working on a road map to end and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) in the western Indian Ocean. The road map will then be presented at the ministerial meeting of Members States to help renew commitment in the fight against illegal fishing.
The Task Force meeting is a joint initiative of the ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands and Stop Illegal Fishing which is an African based independent organisation that aims to stop illegal fishing in African waters. Around 40 representatives from the eight member countries of FISH-i Africa, intergovernmental organisations, as well as stakeholders from law enforcement agencies and international partners are participating. The member countries are Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania.
In his address at the opening ceremony this morning, the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo recalled that IUU accounts for 10 to 30 per cent of the global fish catch with around 10 to 23 billion USD lost annually due to this illicit activity.
Its ramifications, he said, include encouraging overfishing, putting responsible fishers at a disadvantage, weakening coastal communities, threatening food security and promoting tax evasion. He highlighted that such fishing practices often have a deadly impact on the marine environment by damaging protected areas and catching juveniles and untargeted species which are then discarded, thereby leading to unnecessary stock depletion and deteriorated ecosystems.
Minister Koonjoo also spoke about the measures initiated by Government to combat IUU. These include: the setting up of a Fisheries Monitoring Centre at the Albion Fisheries Research Centre, which harbours a Vessel Monitoring System to monitor the activities of fishing vessels in our Exclusive Economic Zone; setting up of a Port State Control Unit for boarding and inspection of fishing vessels; and implementation of a National Plan of Action to combat IUU in line with the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.
FISH-I Africa unites eight Southeast African coastal countries along the Western Indian Ocean, an unprecedented alliance which is showing that regional cooperation, coupled with dedicated analysis and technical expertise, can stop illegal catch getting to market, and prevent criminal fishers pursuing their lucrative business unhindered.
Sharing vessel data real-time and accessing satellite tracking expertise, FISH-i Africa is a Task Force that enables authorities to identify and act against large-scale IUU. The Task Force is developing into a robust and effective mechanism to catalyse enforcement actions and ultimately to secure a sustainable end to illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.
Mauritius is a vital participant of FISH-i Africa. The Task Force is coordinated by the Stop Illegal Fishing Working Group of the Pan African Inter-governmental NEPAD Agency and it is supported by the Pew Charitable Trust.