Government Minister Phil Gawne has been back to Africa.
This time the Rushen MHK was invited to deliver the ‘keynote’ speech at an Interpol conference in the Ivory Coast as chairman of the International Development Committee (IDC) of the Council of Ministers.
Mr Gawne said: ‘There is deep concern in West Africa about the type of unlawful activity and piracy that has blighted parts of East Africa.
‘Interpol is developing a comprehensive view of illegal fishing and associated criminal activities, and the efforts in place to address those challenges.
‘The fact that Interpol and other major organisations such as the World Bank recognise the value of the Isle of Man’s contribution can only help to enhance our global reputation.’
Mr Gawne was able to provide an insight into the success of the long-term development partnership between the Isle of Man and Sierra Leone.
The support provided by the IDC is dramatically improving the lives of thousands of people in the West African country by helping to tackle the scourge of fisheries crime.
The Isle of Man gifted its former fisheries protection vessel to the Sierra Leone government in 2012 and has provided a satellite monitoring system for the local fishing fleet.
That assistance has contributed to an estimated 35 per cent increase in local landings, netting an additional $16 million in earnings for the country’s subsistence fishermen.
Mr Gawne outlined the significant progress achieved over the past three years during his presentation to an audience of 50 senior fisheries law enforcement officers in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city.
The benefits of the partnership between the Isle of Man and Sierra Leone were also highlighted by Alieu Momodu Pat-Sowe, the Sierra Leone Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
Mr Gawne said: ‘The invitation to address the Interpol conference is further evidence of the high esteem in which the Isle of Man is held by the international community. We are seen as a shining light in terms of our efforts to help police and manage the fisheries in West Africa. I took the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. This is not about handing over money and then disappearing; the Isle of Man provides constant support, training and advice to Sierra Leone. We believe this focus on capacity building helps those in poverty to improve their lives through trade rather than depend on foreign aid.’
The cost of Mr Gawne’s attendance at the conference is being met by the portion of the annual Sierra Leone partnership agreement allocated for monitoring and evaluation purposes.