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28/03/2019

Two weeks of training and strategic conversations between multiple stakeholders including South African and Kenyan government officials, fisheries law enforcers and researchers on the extent and impact of fisheries crimes took place at Nelson Mandela University earlier this month.

The objective of the dialogue was to advance economic development by increasing the capacity of selected developing countries to investigate and prosecute fisheries crime. This, by building technical expertise amongst law enforcement officials to fight fisheries crime while promoting a multi-agency and cross-border approach in order to harness internal and external expertise.

The inaugural FishFORCE dialogue, hosted by the FishFORCE academy at Mandela University’s Faculty of Law on 5 March 2019, was the first of about two planned to take place annually. These planned dialogues will foster strategic discussions on key topical issues around Fisheries Crime with the aim of providing solutions towards combating this massive problem, thus having ittreating it as a priority crime.

The dialogue was a one-day occassion where discussions took place under the theme “Tightening the Net”. This was through a range of topics, including the extent and impact of poaching of marine living resources and why it should be treated as a priority crime; what prosecutors expect from law enforcement agencies; a legal perspective on using technology for intelligence and evidence gathering; and eliminating markets in the illegal trade of marine living resources.

FishFORCE director Prof Hennie van As says the discussions will feed into the bigger efforts around fighting fisheries crimes, which occur at high rates and have huge economic disadvantages.

“The information we get from the dialogues will feed into our training, our post-training support and into our research,” he said.

“We will have two of those a year, where we will get feedback into what is happening in practice and have that inform how these are effectively dealt with. This is therefore a massive awareness and advocacy drive.”

Dialogue attendees included high-level operational South African officials and policy-makers through Operation Phakisa, Kenyan officials from the University of Nairobi, Kenyan Coast Guard Services, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kenyan State Department for Fisheries and the Blue Economy and Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and an official from the Tanzanian Special Task Team.

The dialogue was preceded by five days of training that involved a delegation from Kenya on Species Identification and Fisheries Technology (25 February – 1 March), with a further four days dedicated to training on Prevention of Corruption and Taking of Statements (4 – 8 March).

The multi-stakeholder training was linked to the FishFORCE project of improving Multi-agency & Cross-border Coordination and Cooperation, whose objectives are to advance economic development by increasing the capacity of selected developing countries to investigate and prosecute fisheries crime; poverty alleviation through the training of law enforcement officers; and promoting the sustainable utilisation of marine living resources.

“In efforts to further enhance the ‘cross-border’ and ‘multi-agency’ cooperation aspect, ten local Fishery Control Officers (FCOs) from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) joined the Kenyan delegation as part of the initiative in which we are trying to promote a ‘shared fisheries economy’ in combatting fisheries crime,” said Prof van As.

The Kenyan delegation comprised agencies and organisations that included the University of Nairobi’s School of Law and School of Biological Sciences; the Kenyan office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; Kenyan State Department for Fisheries and the Blue Economy; the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute and Kenya Coast Guard Service.

Delegates to the inaugural FishFORCE dialogue hosted by the FishFORCE Academy at Nelson Mandela University’s Faculty of Law

Contact information
Professor Hendrik Van As
Professor of Public Law and Director of the Centre for Law in Action (CLA)
Tel: 27 41 504 1200
Hennie.VanAs@mandela.ac.za