By Fatou Dem
The Department of Fisheries and the National Observers Association in collaboration with BirdLife International recently trained onboard fisheries observers on data collection on seabirds and sea turtles by-catch in West Africa.
The objective of the training was to build the capacity of observers in The Gambia to take a better account of the collection of data relating to incidental catches of birds and sea turtles in industrial fisheries.
The Director of Fisheries, Anna Mbenga Cham said observers are important officials because they provide a permanent presence at the sea and monitoring the activities onboard fishing vessels.
According to the director, the International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas were adopted in 2008 by the FAO. In 2009, she said, FAO develops guidelines to reduce sea turtles’ mortality in fishing operations.
“This voluntary instrument aims at promoting the ecosystem approach to fisheries by addressing by-catch and proposes a suite of measures that States should take, including planning, governance, data collection, research and operational measures.”
Director Cham said in June 2014, the FAO Committee on Fisheries endorsed the voluntary guidelines for flag state performance which aims to prevent, deter, and as well eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing through the effective implementation of flag state responsibilities.
The implementation plan for the training was led by BirdLife International with financial support from the MAVA foundation which is a private foundation under Swiss law and regulated by its statutes and the Swiss Code.
Omar Ba from BirdLife International said they were pleased to offer training on data collection of sea birds and sea turtles.
He added that they have the confidence to share the knowledge they have with the trainees to make sure they perform well.
The overall objective of the project is to establish an operational framework for minimising the by-catch of seabirds and sea turtles in West Africa and to implement it across the region.
The project focuses on five key strategies: research and scientific capacity, observer programmes, advocacy for legislation and mitigation, awareness and public outreach and sustainability and partnership.