Togo: Maritime agencies train to fight against IUU fishing

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Participants atelier pêche INN au Togo

At the request of Togolese maritime stakeholders, GoGIN organized a training in Lomé, from 25 June to 3 July 2019, on the fight against IUU fishing, with the assistance of the European PESCAO project, itself supported by managers from the SRFC (Sub-regional fisheries commission).

Articulated in three phases (theoretical teaching, national readings and full-scale training), this meeting was mainly concerned with testing the national “fishing police” apparatus, within the Togolese exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The technical training, administered by experts from the SRFC (CV Babacar Ba and fishery engineer Cheikh Fall), and from GoGIN (Eric Glotin and CDT Aboubacar Camara from the Guinean Maritime Préfecture), covered the main themes relevant to the effective running of a campaign against IUU fishing (technical and judiciary notions, control mechanisms, knowledge of vessels, identification of fish species, fishing equipment).

The reading phase was focused on the fishing code (Law 2016-026) and the new penal code, as well as the results collected by the SRFC, to facilitate a regional approach to IUU fishing.

The implementation phase, in the shape of a fishing police scheme, was piloted by the GoGIN team, following an operational briefing delivered by the Head of the Cabinet of the Maritime Prefecture. On 2 July a fishing police operation was launched in the Togolese EEZ, leading to the boarding of a fishing boat by a multidisciplinary visiting team, composed of a core responsible for security, and inspectors with the necessary administrative competencies required for fishing controls. The operation was followed by a flag check and discussions lead by a cell based in the MOC, providing the Maritime Prefect with the materials necessary to take the most appropriate decision. A warning was sent to the Ghanaian vessel, fishing in the Togo EEZ.

This phase ended with a debriefing where progress points were identified and if necessary, raised to the decision-making organs. These points related to crisis organization, the fishery control operations and maritime cooperation between Togo and Ghana.

The Maritime Prefect from Togo, Captain Neyo Takougadi, brought the workshop to an end. It reunited forty agents from fifteen administrations involved in the fight against illegal fishing (including the Navy, the Directorate of Fisheries, Maritime Affairs, the Port of Lomé, the Maritime Gendarmerie, and the Environment Department). It should be noted that 4 participants came from neighboring Benin (the Navy, the Directorate of Fisheries, and Maritime Affairs) proof of the importance of regional cooperation.

This new formula coupling workshop and operation proved its effectiveness. Two important objectives have been attained:

  • The improvement of the function of fisheries control;
  • The completion of a demonstrative action on the issue of delimitation of maritime spaces.

In the future a regional operation should be led with neighbouring countries to test the effectiveness of information sharing and regional coordination.

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