UNODC partnership with Ghana navy and NGOs helps track fishing vessels, fisheries violations


ACCRA   Fourteen fishing vessels suspected of illegal activities and overfishing were detected and tracked during a 36-hour operation made possible due to the first-ever combined maritime enforcement operation between four Ghanaian Maritime Law Enforcement agencies, three private partners and UNODC technical assistance to support the Ghanaian Navy. 

Administrative penalties were given to three of the fishing vessels while the fourth was temporarily detained when the Ghanaian Navy responded to activity reported by the private partners on 16 September 2020 thanks to a newly-established partnership with the non-governmental organizations Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking, as well as Vulcan Inc.’s Skylight.

Skylight platform presenting the detection of potential trawlers along a bathymetric layer inside the Ghanaian EEZ using Synthetic Aperture Radar and AIS data

Together they have decades of experience in detecting fisheries crimes and combine the latest commercial satellite and machine learning technology to detect illicit activity at sea.

“The real success of the first combined operation was the establishment of trust by Ghanaian maritime law enforcement agencies in the reliability of the information provided by the private partners,” said the UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme coordinator.

During the operation, the Ghanaian Navy patrol vessel Blika was dispatched to the scene and proceeded to board and inspect four vessels within a six-hour period.  The inspections resulted in the detention of a fishing vessel for targeting undersize fish. The vessel was subsequently escorted to the port Sekondi.

The following day a team from the Fisheries, Marine Police and Ghanaian Police Criminal Investigations Department found that the catch was beyond the allowable limit and issued a fine.

Captain Bek Atiayao, Director of Operations Ghanaian Navy

UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) supports the engagement between Ghanaian Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) agencies and private partners to facilitate bilateral exchanges. This model of inter-agency and private partnership cooperation will be replicated throughout the region to support other MLE agencies to combat maritime crime.

“We are grateful for UNODC’s contribution to aligning the efforts of the private partners to increase our maritime domain awareness and thus, our capability to respond,” said Captain Bek Atiayao, Director of Operations, Ghanaian Navy.

GMCP continues to strengthen the Ghanaian Maritime Law Enforcement agencies’ ability to respond to maritime crimes.

The Ghanaian Navy boarded the vessels to complete their inspection

During the Ghanaian Navy led maritime enforcement operation conducted   27-28 Aug 2020, the private partners provided a comprehensive picture of fisheries crimes in Ghanaian waters. UNODC provided technical and logistical assistance to enable the continuous deployment of two maritime patrols for the duration of the operation.

This support was possible through the generous contributions of the Government of Denmark within the framework of a broader engagement in reinforcing capacities to conduct operations at sea against maritime crime.