The EU-funded PESCAO programme helps to fight illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea

The EU-funded PESCAO programme helps to fight illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea

The Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) and the European Fisheries Control Agency join forces against illegal Fishing in Western Africa

Thanks to PESCAO and EU support, the SRFC and EFCA are joining forces to identify and sanction IUU fishing vessels that are depleting fish resources Western Africa. Joint operations combined with on the spot trainings will make the difference!

SRFC coordinator, Commandant Babacar


The Gulf of Guinea is the region most affected in the world by Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), accounting for up to 37 % of catches, representing up to EUR 1.5 billion. In a report published in September 2016, INTERPOL identifies the main weaknesses in dealing with IUU fishing as being: - outdated legal frameworks, not in line with international obligations and providing inadequate sanctions against vessels engaged in IUU fishing; - lack of capacity to control fishing vessels in the EEZ; and limited regional cooperation.


  • The EU funded programme for improved regional fisheries governance in Western Africa (PESCAO) aims at enhancing the contribution of fisheries resources to sustainable development, food security and poverty alleviation in West Africa.
  • One component of PESCAO consists in building the capacities of competent national and regional monitoring, control and surveillance authorities to deter IUU fishing. This will be done by setting up a partnership between the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).


  • Activities under PESCAO programme started in Spring 2018. Since then, the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) organised 3 joint campaigns at sea in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
  • SRFC organised and coordinated the Mory Gningue (October 2018), Badjigui Kouate (December 2018) and Alexandre Baptista (February 2019) joint operations. Participating coastal states provided patrol vessels and fisheries inspectors. In support of patrolling means, SRFC chartered the Senegalese Navy vessel Fouladou.
  • These operations were organised in cooperation with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA). EFCA supported the operation through the deployment of two EFCA inspectors, in the coordination center and on board of one of the fishing patrol vessels. EFCA provided Integrated Maritime Services (IMS) and Copernicus imagery to assist enforcement authorities in detecting possible unwanted activities.


  • In total, 121 fishing vessels have been inspected and 16 were ordered to rally to port due to severe infractions (illegal fishing gear, non-compliant meshing, non-declaration of catches etc).
  • Follow up sanctions are taken by coastal states authorities and amount to several ten thousand euros per vessel. As an illustration, Guinea imposed a EUR100 000 fine to a China flagged vessel accused of using an illegal fishing gear in the EEZ of Guinea


Andrea PATALANO, EFCA fisheries control expert deployed in the patrol vessel “Fouladou” during one of the joint control surveillance operation carried-out in 2018

"I am pleased for having participated in one of the joint control operations organised by the SRFC. My deployment permitted to identify areas, both at operational and training level, of possible European Union intervention in the context of the project PESCAO. The collaborative nature of the joint surveillance operations also provide an excellent platform to exchange best practices between EFCA and the SRFC countries."