Fisheries Department trains fisheries observers

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The Monitoring Control and Surveillance Unit Department of Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources recently convened a three-day capacity building to strengthen the capacities of fisheries observers.

The training, funded through the European Union Sectoral Support Program, aims to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries resources and to develop Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of the country’s waters

The initiative, according to officials would also help to fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and fisheries-related crimes in the country’s waters.

It could be recalled that the Department of Fisheries established a Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC), through the sector support from the European Union- Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

At the training, Anna Mbenga-Cham, director at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, outlined her department’s stance and importance it attaches to the capacity building of observers, saying the initiative is the key driving force to any meaningful development.

She revealed that fishing vessel observers do not have the legislative authority to enforce fisheries regulations.

“This authority is vested with the fisheries inspectors and Naval officers and considered not to be compatible with the observer’s mandate, which is to be observed, recorded and reported.”

Fisheries director indicated that these observers’ report to the Fisheries Department on the daily activities of the fishing vessels because that has proven to be of paramount importance to the department due to its inability to conduct inspections at sea

Also speaking, Malang Darboe, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources said the observer scheme plays a very significant role in the fight against IUU fishing.

“Observers offer permanent presence at the sea, collect data on onboard fishing vessels, thereby reducing the act of IUU activities in our waters.”

DPS Darboe revealed that there are plans at the sub-regional level to have a regional core of fishing vessel observers.

“Hopefully, when the Monitoring Control Surveillance convention is ratified by all the member states, the scheme will be operational.”

He recalled that in October 2018, the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources led a delegation to Brussels, Belgium to negotiate and sign a sustainable fisheries partnership agreement on behalf of the Government of The Gambia with the EU.

“The partnership agreement is for six years and the objective of the Fisheries Sectoral Support is to strengthen the sustainable management of our fisheries resources and the development of the sector in particular Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of our waters.” he said.

Modou Njie, senior fisheries officer at the department, described the training as a milestone and laudable move in the development of the Monitoring Control Surveillance in The Gambia.

‘There are legislations the observers need to enforce and also control the activities of fishing vessels which are huge tasks.”

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