Kenya is among seven countries that were equipped with materials and equipment Wednesday to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing in the region.
The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has equipped inspectors of the countries who have been participating in the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Plan (PRSP).
PRSP was incepted in 2007 to support the region at combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing through the grouping of the Indian Ocean Island states, and other countries in the region.
Other countries that have benefited include Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania.
In a statement after handing over a batch of about 20 types of materials and equipment for the fisheries inspectors in Quatre Bornes, Mauritius Wednesday, Secretary General of the IOC Vêlayoudom Marimoutou said that the materials will help facilitate their reporting exercise, improve their security and promote transparency in the performance of their duties.
The batch includes safety equipment, floater suits and handheld GPS; recording equipment, such as onboard cameras and waterproof cameras as well as IT equipment such as laptops and tablets.
The donation of the equipment is also 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.
ECOFISH is an interregional programme that promotes sustainable fisheries in the region of Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
“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.
Sudheer Maudhoo, Mauritian Minister for Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Maritime Transport and a representative of one of the beneficiary countries stressed on the need 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.
According to the Ecofish program, the ratio of serious offences has substantially decreased since the PRSP was established and while 30 percent 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 percent of all the tuna catch in the world.
By Wangari Ndirangu