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The European Union and the ECOWAS Commission have taken steps towards improving the governance of fisheries in the West African region with the inaugural session of the Steering Committee of the Programme for Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa (PESCAO), in Abuja on 7 and 8 November, 2018. The Committee co-chaired by the ECOWAS Commission and the European Union serves as a platform for policy dialogue on fisheries Western African region. It will also oversee the overall monitoring of the programme in concert with key regional organizations.
The Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa is a €15 million EU-funded initiative, jointly implemented with the ECOWAS Commission. It aims to support the ECOWAS in developing a framework for regional fisheries priorities and facilitating cooperation with sub-regional organizations and development partners.
The first Steering Committee Meeting aimed to establish long term goals for the project and to discuss the global work plan and budget. The members of the Steering Committee will make recommendations on the coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the project in the view of achieving the expected results and objectives of the PESCAO programme.
The contribution of fisheries to the economic development of West Africa is sub-optimal and the current management of fisheries threatens food security, means of subsistence and marine biodiversity. Climate change is likely to exacerbate this situation. Key problems and issues to be addressed include poor management of fish stocks, the importance of IUU fishing, and lack of coordination and cooperation among regional institutions and national competent authorities.
The PESCAO Programme aims at improving regional fisheries governance in Western Africa through better coordination of national fisheries policies. First it will support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in developing a framework for regional fisheries priorities and facilitating cooperation with sub-regional organizations and development partners. Second it will build on the capacities of competent national and regional monitoring, control and surveillance authorities to deter IUU fishing. This will be done by setting up a partnership with the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA). Third, it will support the coordinated approaches for shared fisheries management. The programme has a budget of EUR 15 million. Duration 2018-2023.
All ECOWAS member States covered by the EU-West Africa regional Indicative Programme (i.e. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) as well as Mauritania with a specific focus on coastal countries.