South Africa’s MCS staff committed to keep IUU fishing vessels and operators out of the country’s waters

February 28 2024

Earlier this year, an inception meeting with the management of the DFFE in charge of MCS issues had allowed to identify needs to be addressed as part of the project: strengthening risk assessment of fishing vessels coming into port and for vessels passing by the EEZ (whether authorized to fish or not);

  • strengthening capacities in managing activity of foreign vessels in SA’s EEZ and at port;
  • capacity-building in vessel monitoring and gathering of intelligence on MCS;
  • improving inspections (incl. focus on imports and offloading of fish and endangered species);
  • decent working conditions for fisheries workers;
  • supporting the use of body-worn cameras during inspection; and
  • strengthening regional cooperation on MCS and sustainable fisheries management.

As a main priority, it was agreed to set an initial focus on risk assessment. Over five days, 35 fisheries compliance officers (FCOs) from Cape Town as well as representatives from Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London, were provided with various tools and recommendations to improve their work practices when dealing with fishing vessels and operators. The project implementation team, composed of the MCSCC Interim Project Management Unit (IPMU) and SIF, deep dived with the participants on the importance of risk assessment as an MCS tool and how it supports fishing inspections.

As this training was practical, the fisheries compliance officers conducted risk assessments of fishing vessels calling into port at the time of the workshop, based on the toolbox provided by the trainers. These risk assessments were followed by inspection exercises with body-worn cameras in the port of Cape Town, based on the results of the risk assessments conducted. Participants showed high commitment during the training and made several recommendations on how to improve the efficiency of their actions in keeping IUU fishing activity out of South Africa’s waters. In their eyes, such capacity-building activities are necessary to ensure that inspectors going onboard fishing vessels are prepared before they conduct an inspection. As a follow-up to this workshop, it was agreed that the project implementation team would continue coaching through mentoring activities.