The 52nd meeting of the PRSP’s RCU, chaired by Rijasoa Fanazava, Executive Director of the Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) in Madagascar, was held on 12 & 13 July 2022 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Of the 9 partner countries, 8 were represented and addressed a number of topics, including the coordination of PRSP’s operations and the improvement of its functioning.
COORDINATING PRSP’S OPERATIONS: AVAILABLE FUNDS, ONGOING INFORMATION EXCHANGE, AND UPCOMING TWO REGIONAL MISSIONS
With regard to the implementation of fisheries surveillance activities, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania and Seychelles have each been awarded a grant from the European Union to date, totaling €2 million over a period of 3 years.
With this funding, two regional missions were announced during the meeting and discussions for their preparation have begun, in order to help achieve the objectives set by the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries in 2017, including at least 100 at-sea patrol days per year. The first regional patrol will be on board the ATSANTSA of Madagascar and the second on the surveillance boat ETOILE of the Seychelles.
The meeting also took stock of the various information exchange systems used under the PRSP. These systems allow for more effective and relevant surveillance actions. Today, the satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which tracks the movement of boats in the region, is operational again.
The STARFISH system, which facilitates data exchange about vessels operating in the region (type, license, permit, etc.), will also be upgraded and the necessary administrative procedures have been initiated. However, the RCU recommends that the old version of the system be shared with participating countries pending its update.
A review of the exchange protocols of the two systems was also presented and the new versions will be submitted to the participating countries for comment.
IMPROVING PRSP’S FUNCTIONING: REVISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENT, COOPERATION EXPANSION AND INSTITUTIONALISATION
In order to keep pace with fisheries development and the evolution of monitoring, control and surveillance activities in the region, the administrative arrangement of the PRSP – which dates back to 2007 – has been revised. The amendment proposals put forward during the RCU meeting will be submitted to the PRSP’s Expanded Regional Coordination Unit (ERCU), responsible for drawing up political guidelines for the mechanism.
The RCU also reiterated PRSP’s readiness to pursue discussions on extending collaboration with IOC’s Maritime Security Programme (MASE), and SADC’s Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCS CC). The objective is to improve information exchange and data sharing between these initiatives, in order to create synergies in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
During this RCU 52nd meeting, the interim report for developing a formal PRSP governance framework was presented as progress towards institutionalising the mechanism. It has also been decided that the next ERCU meeting will be held in La Reunion.