The 5th meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) was held in Nassau, Bahamas from the 18th – 21st September 2017. A two-day meeting of ACP Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture followed the meeting of senior fisheries officials held on 18-19 September. The majority of ACP member countries are coastal States where fisheries is an important sector, and this meeting provided an opportunity to discuss strengthening and sharing commitments, including national and regional best practice, and agree on priority issues that need coordination. The discussions focussed on the role of fisheries in improving job and food security and the potential of the blue economy to improve livelihoods and ensure environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas.

Speaking during the session on Advancing the implementation of SDG 14: Ending Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in ACP countries, Stop Illegal Fishing Coordinator Per Erik Bergh described the issues facing fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean and the success that the FISH-i Africa Task Force has had combatting these problems.

Introducing the latest FISH-i Africa publication FISH-i Africa: Our Future, Mr Bergh noted, “Our findings have lead us to question the traditional and expected norms of compliance behavior. Normally, we would expect that only a few vessels deliberately operate against the laws, and a larger but still small group would opportunistically break the rules. With the majority being complaint fishers or those that occasionally, inadvertently break the rules. However, we have found that the deliberate crimes far outweighed the opportunistic ones. This is a major game changer that requires a change in our approach.”

Mr Bergh ended his talk pointing out “that the FISH-i model is a sustainable and low-cost solution developed to identify illegal fishing without the need for high cost patrol and surveillance activity. FISH-i has proven itself as an affordable, effective solution with many regions around the world now looking to replicate its success.”