The training held at a Centre in Bijilo was centred on the theme, ‘Building capacity for the use of Earth Observation Information to Support Fisheries management and safety at sea in West Africa’.
It could be recalled that the Regional Project entitled ‘Monitoring Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) was officially launched at the Paradise Suites Hotel on the 18th December, 2014 after the regional launching at the implementation Headquarters, University of Legon in Accra, Ghana from the 4th to 8th August, 2014.
The objectives of the project is to increase access to reliable and periodic EO coastal marine monitoring data and services, monitoring parameters to support fisheries management, monitoring parameters indicative of ocean states, and improved cooperation between African countries (national and regional) with European countries.
In declaring the workshop open, Matarr Bah, Director of the Department of Fisheries, deputising for the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries Abdoulie T.B Jarra, explained that MESA is a Pan-African programme that builds on results of previous projects, that is Preparation meant for Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa (PUMA) Project (2001-2005) and the African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) programme (2007-2013).
These, he said, are to increase the information management, decision-making and planning capacity of African continental, regional and national institutions mandated for environment, climate, food security and related responsibilities by enhancing access to, and exploitation of relevant Earth Observation (EO) applications in Africa.
He further stated that the fisheries sector is presently threatened due to the impact of climate change, poor management practices and ever increasing challenges from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) by both artisanal and industrial fisheries sectors, thereby contributing to over exploitation of fisheries and other marine resources.
“The consequences of IUU fishing are the scarcity of fisheries resources, lack of fish products in the markets and above all food insecurity. Added to these are the important economic losses and irreversible threats of destruction of resources caused by IUU fishing, and as a result, the need for justifying to reinforce national
fisheries surveillance units, including active and collaboration of The Gambia Navy.”
Therefore, he noted, MESA project will focus on assisting participating countries to develop capacity and use EO data to manage fisheries resources and ensure safety at sea including the eradication of IUU fishing.
He urged the participants to take the training seriously for the effective implementation of the project.