The Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), in partnership with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), launches the joint surveillance operation "STINGRAY" to control fishing activities in the waters of its Member States with a view to strengthen the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) in the SRFC area.

As part of the implementation of the PESCAO Program "Improvement of regional fisheries governance in West Africa", financed by the European Union, the SRFC and the national MCS structures of member countries, in partnership with the AECP, organized, from April 18 to May 2, 2021 from Freetown (Sierra Leone) the joint control and surveillance operation of fishing activities called "STINGRAY" in order to strengthen sub-regional operational cooperation in order to detect fishing activities that do not comply with the conservation and management rules in force in the SRFC member states.

Operation "STINGRAY" took place in the EEZ of Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The naval assets engaged ("SIK" from Sierra Leone, "P 328" from Guinea and "O BUNUNG from Guinea Bissau) were supported by the high seas patrol vessel" FOULADOU "from Senegal chartered by the SRFC and by the aerial surveillance aircraft chartered by EFCA.

Operation "STINGRAY" was conducted from the sub-regional coordination post (PSRCO) located in the premises of the Joint Maritime Committee and directed by Commander Mamadou Ball, Consultant of the Department of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of Fisheries Management. CSRP based at UCOS in Banjul.

In terms of human resources engaged in the "STINGRAY" operation, we can cite: the directors of the SCS structures, the heads of the surveillance operations of the SCS structures, on-board inspectors, the radio / VMS / AIS operators, the EFCA personnel in videoconference, representatives of the sub-regional patroller, the surveillance aircraft, the SRFC and the CPCO.

The technical means engaged within the framework of the operation "STINGRAY", in addition to the naval means, concerned the VMS of the Member States, satellite imagery, aerial photography transmitted in real time, satellite telephony, radio devices. and RADAR.

The overall assessment of the activities carried out resulted in a total of 209 vessels detected, of which 145 were identified and 72 inspected. A total of 11 ships were boarded, including 6 canoes.

The naval and air assets, engaged within the framework of this joint fishery monitoring operation, were diverted to provide assistance to a vessel reported in distress and to identify a slick of oil pollution. These events were brought to the attention of the Sierra Leonean authorities.

In the same vein, the trawler "PILOT WHALE", caught fishing without authorization in Guinean waters by the sub-regional patroller, was pursued and then intercepted; in the end, he was arrested in the waters of Guinea Bissau and escorted to the port of Bissau.

The debriefing of the joint surveillance operation in Freetown, Sierra Leone took place in the presence of the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Mrs. Emma Kowa Jalloh, his Deputy Mr. Ibrahim Turay as well as a large number of the staff of his Ministry and representatives of the National Navy of Sierra Leone. The event received media coverage from the local press.

Friday 07 May 2021