Côte d’Ivoire hosts regional workshop on illegal fishing and crossover crimes
ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire – The INTERPOL Regional Bureau for West Africa in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, has hosted the INTERPOL Workshop on Fisheries Crime in the West African Coastal Region. The two-day discussions (15-16 May) addressed current national and international initiatives in fisheries law enforcement, regional cooperation in the fisheries sector and national maritime security.
The Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Resources of Côte d’Ivoire, Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, opened the ceremony, alongside Sierra Leone’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Momodu Pat-Sowe; Isle of Man’s Minister of Environment, Food, and Agriculture, Phil Gawne; the Head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Abidjan, Balla Traore; and the Deputy Director General of the National Police of Côte d'Ivoire, Camara Yaya.
Organized by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Sub-Directorate and funded by the government of Norway, the workshop brought together 37 high-level national and international experts in fisheries law enforcement and management to discuss an INTERPOL study on fisheries crime in West Africa which aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of illegal fishing modus operandi, associated criminal activities in this region, and the efforts to address the issue.
The study, currently under development by INTERPOL in cooperation with 14 member countries in West Africa, will also include contributions from experts, stakeholders, and open-source review. It will assist INTERPOL and the Board of the INTERPOL Fisheries Crime Working Group in identifying how the Organisation’s global tools and services can best support member countries in the region, while looking for opportunities to coordinate with existing initiatives to avoid duplication of efforts. The final report will be published in the summer of 2014 and will be shared in both public and secure domains.
The workshop also presented a new INTERPOL initiative, FishINTEL, which is supported by the government of Norway and aims to improve cross-border fisheries crime related intelligence sharing and fisheries law-enforcement capacity.
The participants explored opportunities for investigative support such as DNA and trade data analysis, the deployment of INTERPOL Incident Response Teams and Investigative Support Teams, and the publication of INTERPOL notices on suspect vessels and persons.
With discussions also looking to develop a common action plan and recommendations for improved law enforcement based on needs and gaps identified by each country, the workshop reflected the sustained efforts of INTERPOL and its partners to support countries in harmonizing national and regional enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations.