The destabilizing impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) result in losses estimated on average at about 790,000 tons of fish per year. This has resulted in annual economic losses in income of over $2 billion. Given that there is a growing awareness of IUU fishing activities in the GoG and the need for GoG countries to take greater management control of their ocean resources and governance, this short-term training sought to promote regional cooperation towards addressing maritime security, piracy, food security, climate change impacts and ocean governance among GoG countries.
The key objectives were to develop the capacity of GoG countries to (1) address IUU fishing through regional cooperation (2) promote effective regional fisheries management through capacity building and peer learning, and (3) enhance coastal communities’ adaptation to climate change.
The course adopted a study tour and peer learning approach involving academia, industry, policy and non-state actors drawn from seven (7) countries, namely Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia and Ghana. This was a hybrid training program involving Ghanaian and regional stakeholders with in-person participants and the participation of resource persons through virtual and in-person interactions. Participants and resource persons were engaged in strategies for curtailing IUU fishing, improving fisheries governance and enhancing coastal livelihood adaptation to climate change. The training was structured into modules and units for a better appreciation of the subject areas.
The training took place in two cities, Accra and Cape Coast, with the first two days, the 17th and 18th of April 2023 in Accra, where three units of the first module, centred on IUU fishing, were taught. As part of the implementation process, the project was officially launched on April 17, 2023, at Tomreik Hotel in Accra, Ghana. In attendance were the regional fisheries stakeholders, representatives from the Centre for Coastal Management (CCM, UCC), US Embassy, Fisheries Commission of Ghana (FC), Centre for Maritime Laws and Security (CEMLAWS) and Ghana Tuna Association (GTA). During the launch, Prof. Denis Worlanyo Aheto, the Director of CCM, UCC, who participated online from Morocco gave an extensive overview of the project, emphasizing the need for regional cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing in the GoG.
A field trip was organized for participants to visit the Tema Habour, the Monitoring Control and Surveillance (MCS) Division of the Fisheries Commission of Ghana, and the executive members of the Ghana Tuna Association (GTA) to learn about the exploitation of the Ghanaian marine fisheries and its associated regulatory bodies. Moreover, participants were trained on the effective use of MCS facilities for fisheries management and had interactions on the best practices for the sustainable exploitation and optimisation of fish yield.