MegaPesca reports on recent Aerial Surveillance Missions in W. Africa.

Megapesca has recently arranged two aerial surveillance missions in a W.African country, which we cannot name because of cilient confidentiality reasons. However, the result are interesting and worthy of further dissemination. The country has relatively rich fishery resources, but a weak legal and enforcement regime. The overflights of fishing grounds were arranged because illegal fishing was suspected, but its extent was not known. Low speed low altitude passes were made over known fishing grounds, and over the 3-mile Inshore Exclusion Zone. Photographs of unlicensed vessels and illegal activities were taken. The total patrol time of the aerial surveillance was approximately 8.5 hours. An additional 5 hours were required to place the aircraft in the patrol area and take the observer on board. 

Trawler shown heading out of IEZ after spotting surveillance aircraft. The nets are covering the vessel name.

Fenders show that vessel has probably either transhipped or been supplied recently. 


The first overflight covered the inshore areas 
The second overflight covered the edge of the continental shelf.

Trawler, probably fishing less than 100 meters from beach,  headed away after spotting surveillance aircraft


Background information to support the exercise was inadequate. No current list of licensed vessels was readily available and had to be hurriedly compiled prior to the departure of the flights. Up to this flight no radio communications had been established between the surveillance missions and the fisheries department radio room. Previous flights had not been supplied with details of the vessel locations as per the daily radio reports to fisheries department. No information on the activities and location of the reefers and fleet support ships (tankers, supply ships) was readily available.

The main technical problem was the delay in refueling the aircraft where ground staff insist on 'incentive' payments.




Longliner 'JUREL' fishing illegally 

CAP NEGRET, Reefer/Supply vessel. 
Note fishing gear, oil drums and large fenders on deck.

Results and Conclusions

A photographic record was obtained, and detailed results were compiled as tables, see Appendix 1 for the summary. 

In summary the results are as follows.

1. Many vessels are unmarked, deliberately cover the identification marks, or are marked in a manner inconsistent with the regulations. The fisheries department must insist that all licensed vessels are correctly marked and the observers must insist that the marks are displayed at all times. No vessel should be allowed to leave port with inadequate markings. The high cost of the aerial surveillance demands effective shore controls. A total of 11 vessels had inadequate markings.

2. There was some evidence of 'pirate' fishing, i.e., fishing by unlicensed vessels. These may be vessels which have recently possessed a license, or are part of a group of foreign vessels fishing in several countries in the region. Particular attention is drawn to the unmarked Korean vessels, apparently associated with the Tikonko agency vessel group. It is not suggested that any of the local agencies are involved in the unlicensed fishing activities. Three vessels were apparently fishing without a licence.

3. The inshore exclusion zone (IEZ) is ignored by the fishing vessels. Forty five percent, or 16 out of 35 vessels actively fishing were inside the Inshore Exclusion Zone. Either the extent of the zone should be reviewed to make it more realistic and operable, or it should be strictly enforced with strong action taken on the daily observer reports indicating that vessels operate with impunity inside the IEZ.

4. In total 18 out of the 35 vessels actively fishing were operating illegally (51%).

5. During the second flight a longliner JUREL, was identified fishing without a licence approximately in oceanic waters approximately 4000m in depth.  

CEREAS (trawler) and SEA SAFICO (reefer/supply).
Note fish hold apparently open, although transhipment was not authorised.


Fishing activity is concentrated in the inshore areas. Enforcement can be based on good information ('smart surveillance'), coupled with a small cost effective vessel.  

Different organisational models for the design of a more effective MCS operation are proposed.

erkek oyunlarıbarbie oyunlarıkral oyunkız oyunlarıben 10

February, 2000

"More like a Feeding Frenzy"

OKEKY and other vessels on W. African shrimp grounds.
(11 vessels in photo).
The line of the IEZ runs through the middle of this important shrimp trawl ground.

Appendix 1

1. 16 out of 35 vessels actively fishing were inside the Inshore Exclusion Zone (45%)
2. 8 out of the 16 vessels fishing in the IEZ bore no name, or had names covered, or not legible
3. An additional 3 vessels bore no name (outside IEZ)
4. In total 18 out of the 35 vessels actively fishing were operating illegally (51%)
5. 3 vessels apparently fishing without a license