The sixth meeting of the FISH-i Africa Task Force took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 28-29, 2017. Seven Task Force members attended the meeting: Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania with South Africa attending as an observer. Somalia, who joined FISH-i in 2016 were unable to attend.

FISH-i Africa, since its foundation in 2012, has created a strong network of members committed to working together to end illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean and beyond. The sharing and exchange of information between members continues to be key to the success of the Task Force, by identifying high-risk vessels and coordinating inspection and enforcement action.

The meeting provided opportunity for updates from the region, analysis of ongoing and recent investigations, and a look at fishing activity in the WIO including a newly identified unregulated squid fishery. The responsibility of flag States proved to be a focus of the meeting as well as discussion on the effective implementation of port State measures.

The Task Force celebrated their award as Seafood Champion for Innovation 2017. Per Erik Bergh of Stop Illegal Fishing, who had received the award on behalf of FISH-i at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle earlier in the month, commended the work of FISH-i and the dedication of those involved. “We feel very honoured that our efforts have been recognized internationally and look forward to working more closely with the seafood sector to stop illegal fishing.”

The location of the meeting enabled the participation of South Africa as an observer on the second day of the meeting; the FISH-i members warmly welcomed their attendance and the benefits of wider cooperation and information sharing were noted. Bernard Liedemann of the Department for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa commented, “The FISH-i system of communication is really benefiting the MCS operations in the region as the rapid exchange of key information leads to faster and more effective enforcement activity.”

During a review of FISH-i and discussion of future priorities, Task Force members stated, “FISH-i Africa has been a unifying agent, bringing together all the countries of the Western Indian Ocean. We value the amazing cooperation and sharing of information and knowledge and the action and achievements it has brought. FISH-i provides a real sense of satisfaction in the wonderful work we have been doing.”