Sea Shepherd Legal has partnered with Gabon’s National Agency of National Parks (ANPN) to launch capacity-building workshops providing legal and policy support to multiple government agencies combatting fisheries crime in Gabon, Central West Africa.
The first workshop, held in the capital city of Libreville, followed the recent arrest of two industrial shrimp trawlers for fishing in one of Gabon’s newly-established marine protected areas, violating Gabonese law. Supported by a boarding and inspection checklist that Sea Shepherd Legal helped prepare, Gabonese authorities issued significant fines. Gabon is a regional leader in marine conservation, last year creating nine new national marine parks and 11 new aquatic reserves – protecting 26% of Gabonese waters.
Taking place in three Gabonese cities, the workshop series – titled Securing Gabon’s National Heritage: Policies and Practices to Eliminate IUU Fishing in Gabonese Waters– aims to (1) enhance awareness of the threats that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses to the future of Gabon; (2) offer opportunities to enhance policies to combat IUU fishing and protect Gabon’s national heritage; and (3) increase the capacity of enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and other officials to directly respond to IUU fishing threats.
Professor Lee White, Executive Secretary of the ANPN, opened the workshop with more than sixty Gabonese officials from multiple agencies and local experts in attendance including the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Environment and the ANPN, who engaged in productive discussions on how to continue to improve on Gabon’s strong fisheries laws and regulations.
These workshops complement both Sea Shepherd Global’s Operation Albacorecampaigns, which involve at-sea patrols to combat illegal fishing, as well as Sea Shepherd Legal’s existing policy work in Gabon. Discussions are now underway to make the capacity-building workshops an annual event.