The work of the 27th Extraordinary Session of the Coordinating Committee of the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (1st-3rd August 2016, Banjul, Islamic Republic of the Gambia) were concluded with the validation of the draft Convention on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS Convention) and its additional protocols on the sub regional Register of industrial fishing vessels including the list of IUU fishing vessels, on the Exchange of information between Member States and on the sub-regional observers Program.

This 27th Extraordinary Session extended to Ghana and Liberia, and funded by the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP), aimed to examine and validate the draft Convention on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS Convention) and its additional protocols (Protocol on the sub regional Register of industrial fishing vessels including the list of IUU fishing vessels; Protocol on the sub-regional observers Program; Protocol on the on Exchange of information between Member States).

The MCS convention and its additional protocols, apart from being an important MCS tool, are an essential component of the DASHBOARD, an integral part of the international Register of fishing vessels in the elaboration stages by the FAO and an important MCS sustainable finance mechanism in the zone of the SRFC by generating funds through the sub regional fishing vessels and the sub regional observers Program.

The statutory members of the Coordinating Committee (Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal, and Sierra Leone), the Head of the national MCS structures of Member States and Ghana and Liberia, Lawyers/Legal advisers of Ministries in charge of Fisheries of SRFC Member States, Regional and National Coordinators of  WARFP and the  Permanent Secretariat attended this important session.

 

Works

  • The draft MCS Convention is innovative  by the  following provisions and particularities:   
  • The integration of all Member States concerns regarding the MCS;
  • The clarification of the provisions of international conventions;
  • The establishment, for the first time, of a  sub-regional vessels Register  and of an observers Program;
  • The establishment of yellow and red cards against the adepts of IUU fishing at the sub regional level;
  • The establishment of administrative proceeding.
  • The draft Protocol on the sub-regional Register of industrial fishing vessels presents the sub-regional vessel Register as a planning and a management tool. It defines how to register at the sub-regional register of fishing vessels, and the types of ships covered by the registration in the register.
  • The draft Protocol on the sub-regional observers Program defines the status et mission of the sub regional observer, the scope of the sub regional observer, and the expectation of Member States on the sub-regional observers Program.
  • Finally, the draft Protocol on information Exchange defines the importance of information and the framework and the nature of information to exchange between Member States. It establishes the regional VMS, the DASHBOARD and the electronic system of collection, analysis and exchange of information.

The discussions arising from the presentation of these drafts allowed to review all articles, to make remarks on the form and substance without calling into question the content and relevance of the four documents, and to make amendments.

After discussions, the Coordinating Committee validated the four (04) drafts documents, subject to incorporate the amendments adopted.  This validation is the last great step before the submission of the final document integrating the remarks to the Conference of Ministers for its adoption.

 

Context

This draft MCS Convention and its additional protocols was drawn up after the process launched by the SRFC since more than ten years ago, after studying the negative effects and the worrisome magnitude of IUU fishing due to overexploitation of fisheries resources by industrial and artisanal fishing since the 1990’s  (shortage of fisheries products food insecurity etc.).

The SRFC made the first move in 1993, by adopting the Convention on sub-regional cooperation in the exercise of hot pursuit and its protocol relative to practical modalities of coordination of surveillance operations in Member States of the SRFC, whose objective is to implement rules and modalities for the reinforcement and cooperation between MCS units of member states and to define the general principles governing the right of hot pursuit exercised toward any vessel operating in the waters under the jurisdiction of a member state and who after fruitless summons, attempts to evade inspection by an aircraft or a patrol vessel of the state.

The Nouakchott Declaration to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU fishing in general and in the zone of the SRFC in particular, is a strong political act made by the Conference of Ministers during its 14th Ordinary Session held in September 2001 in Nouakchott, and started the first discussion on the establishment of a sub regional register of industrial fishing vessel. Therefore during this meeting, the Member States agreed on the legal framework and the data base of the sub-regional register and the national registers. In the absence of a consensus, the Conference of Ministers found it more realistic to adopt texts pertinent to national registers and to copy the idea on the national register of industrial fishing vessels.

Thus in 1993, the SRFC made the first move by adopting the Convention on sub regional cooperation in the exercise of hot pursuit and its protocol relative to practical modalities of coordination of surveillance operations in Member States of the SRFC, whose objective is to implement rules and modalities for the reinforcement and cooperation between MCS units of member states and to define the general principles governing the right of hot pursuit exercised toward any vessel operating in the waters under the jurisdiction of a member state and who after fruitless summons, attempts to evade inspection by an aircraft or a patrol vessel of the state.

However since the 14th ordinary session held in September 2001 in Nouakchott during which the Conference of Ministers undertook a strong political act pledged to the FAO to deter, prevent and eliminate IUU fishing in general and in the zone of the SRFC in particular, the SRFC is working on the establishment of a sub regional register of industrial fishing vessel. Therefore during this meeting, the states agreed on the legal framework and the data base of the sub regional register and the national registers. In the absence of a consensus, the Conference of Ministers found it more realistic to adopt texts pertinent to national registers and to copy the idea on the national register of industrial fishing vessels.

Faced with the rapid international legal evolution, member states invited the SRFC to harmonize the MCS sub regional legal framework in order to adapt to international law. In this regard, two consultations were conducted under project UE/UEMOA/SCS, to do:

  1. a comparative analysis of MCS legislation of member states within the international legal framework and propose a draft MCS convention according to international law; taking into consideration the legal management of a future sub regional register of fishing vessels, a sub regional observers program and a sub regional MCS device for exchange of information;
  2. a data base on the three components of information according to the list of vessels authorised to fish within the maritime waters under the jurisdiction of member states of the SRFC, results of MCS operations and the list of vessels that have practiced IUU fishing in the zone of the SRFC.

At the end of Project UE/UEMOA/SCS in 2013, the main results of these consultations were built upon by WARFP, who integrated them in the Dash board program that is in the process of finalization. The WARFP also recruited the services of a consultant to elaborate additional protocols to the MCS convention whose works were validated in December 2015, by the MCS technical commission extended to legal experts and to national and regional WARFP coordinators. During this meeting, there was a demonstration of the dash board and the data base of the sub regional register.

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Monday 01 August 2016
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