Quatre Bornes, 12th December 2022 – The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has equipped inspectors of countries participating in the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Plan (PRSP) with materials and equipment to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing in the region, during a ceremony held this Monday, 12th December 2022 in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius. “The material and equipment handed over today will help facilitate their reporting exercise, improve their security and promote transparency in the performance of their duties,” said Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission, in his welcome address.

Seven countries participating in the PRSP – namely Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania – have each received a batch of about 20 types of materials and equipment for their fisheries inspectors. The batch includes safety equipment, such as floater suits and handheld GPS; recording equipment, such as onboard cameras and waterproof cameras; as well as IT equipment such as laptops and tablets.

This is to consolidate the achievements of the PRSP, which is a regional cooperation mechanism funded by the European Union through the ECOFISH Programme, to ensure a sustainable future for fisheries by combating illegal fishing. “We all have a common goal: to ensure that our oceans are used and managed in a sustainable and responsible manner, and that the people who depend on them can continue to earn a living and contribute to the well-being of their communities“, said Milko Van Gool, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles.

The ceremony was also honoured by the presence of Sudheer Maudhoo, Mauritian Minister for Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Maritime Transport. As a representative of one of the beneficiary countries, he stressed that “it is essential to adopt good governance principles to achieve effective fisheries management that ensures sustainability in order to contribute to economic growth, food security and livelihoods”.

The PRSP’s regional fisheries surveillance missions have helped deter potential illegal fishers from venturing into the region’s waters. The ratio of serious offences has substantially decreased since the PRSP was established. While 30% of the infringements found during the first PRSP sea mission in 2007 were serious, all infringements found during the 59th and latest mission in November 2022 were minor.

The exploitation of marine resources contributes significantly to the economy of the region. Protecting these fisheries resources is essential, considering that fishing in the southwestern Indian Ocean contributes up to 20% of all the tuna catch in the world.