The Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (COMHAFAT) at its sixth meeting in Rabat, Morocco, July 2005, made a request to FAO to assess the possibility of establishing a sub-regional committee of fisheries in the west central part of the Gulf of Guinea.
Pursuant to this request, FAO has produced a feasibility study in March 2006. This study was reviewed by the directors of fisheries of the six countries concerned at a meeting held in Cotonou, Benin, 12 to 13 April 2006. Which approved the project to establish a sub-regional committee of fisheries, called the Committee of Fisheries for the West Central of the Gulf of Guinea (FCWC).
In July 2006, a ministerial meeting was held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, to accept the proposals of the Heads of Fisheries meeting. The Ministers signed the Declaration of July 2006, establishing the Committee.
The Committee shall promote cooperation among the Contracting Parties with a view to ensuring, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilization of the living marine resources covered by the Convention and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such resources.
We, as a Committee, will pursue one over-arching goal, five(5)strategic technical goals/objectives and one strategic functional goal that relate to specific focus areas during the ten-year projection period.
Our Overarching Goal is “To ensure the sustainable development of the fisheries resources in the FCWC Convention Area”
Our Strategic Goals/Objectives are:
- Rebuild and maintain robust fisheries resources through policy reforms, cooperative regulatory planning, good governance and improvements in institutions.
- Develop and implement appropriate management frameworks that ensure fisheries resources are harvested sustainably, improved intra-regional and international trade of fish and fishery products and maximum economic and social benefits are obtained from the fisheries.
- Develop the capacity of Members’ Small-scale fishers and other operators to create sustainable livelihoods for their people from the sustainable harvest, processing and marketing of their fisheries resources
- Enhance national capabilities for efficient, cost effective and sustainable fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance, and establishing mechanisms for effective regional cooperation in MCS and enforcement to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the West Central Gulf of Guinea
- Strengthen cooperative research and ensure that resource-related decisions are based on sound knowledge, scientific methodology and best information available.
- Our Strategic organizational/functional goal is "To ensure the effective implementation of the Committee’s work through results-based management, improved communication, and better financial, human and knowledge management systems and tools".
To achieve the objectives, the Committee shall have the function and responsibility to:
provide a forum for discussion on any fishery-related matter;
improve the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and processors, including the devising of appropriate measures to deal with migrant fishers;
harmonize fisheries legislation and regulations among the Contracting Parties;
enhance cooperation in respect of relations with distant water fishing countries;
strengthen sub-regional cooperation in monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement, including the progressive development of common procedures;
promote the development of fisheries research capabilities;
promote the development of standards for the collection, exchange and reporting of fisheries data;
develop and promote common policies and strategies, as appropriate, in the sub-region to enhance sub-regional standing in international meetings; and promote sub-regional cooperation in the marketing and trading of fish and fish products.
The Fishery Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) was established in July 2006 at the Ministerial Meeting in Abidjan. The Meeting issued a declaration to endorse the establishment of the Committee and approve the hosting of the Secretariat in Tema, Ghana.
A legal framework gradually consolidated:
- 2006, Ministerial Declaration of Abidjan, establishing the Committee
- 2007: Adoption of Cotonou Convention, establishing the Committee
- 2008: Adoption of the structure of the Secretariat and a permanent funding mechanism to support the Committee’s activities,
- 2009: Ministerial Declaration of Accra, combating illegal fishing and adoption of the regional action plan against illegal fishing.
The Committee activities shall apply to all marine waters under national jurisdiction of the Contracting Parties as well as to all living marine resources, without prejudice to the management responsibilities and authorities of other competent fisheries management organizations or arrangements in the area.