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Cablegate: Nigeria Surprises with Model Program for Sea

VZCZCXRO0958
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0398/01 2820716
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080716Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0216
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9866

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000398

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - HANDLE ACCORDINGLY
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/WA
STATE FOR INR/AA
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
DOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS
STATE PASS NSC FOR BOBBY PITTMAN
STATE PASS USTR FOR USTR AGAMA
STATE PASS USAID FOR GWEYNAND AND SLAWAETZ
STATE PASS OPIC FOR ZHAN AND MSTUCKART
STATE PASS TDA FOR LFITT, PMARIN
STATE PASS EXIM FOR JRICHTER
STATE PASS OES FOR HOGAN
STATE PASS NOAA FOR DKLEMM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON NOAA EFIS SENV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA SURPRISES WITH MODEL PROGRAM FOR SEA
TURTLE CONSERVATION

1.(U) Summary: On September 25 and 26 inspectors from the
U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, an arm of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science (OES) visited
the Nigerian Department of Fisheries and the Nigerian shrimp
fleet to evaluate compliance with U.S. regulations for Turtle
Exclusion Devices (TEDs) on shrimp trawlers. The U.S. team
was impressed by the Nigerian regulations, inspectors and by
compliance among commercial shrimpers. The program was
praised as one of the best the U.S. inspectors had seen
worldwide and the Nigerians were encouraged to take a
leadership role in assisting other West African countries to
adopt TED programs. The Nigerian TED program is an example of
what Nigerian technocrats and industry are capable of doing,
despite adverse conditions, if they are given clear
incentives and effective encouragement. Nigerian
interlocutors noted, however, that piracy is increasing in
territorial waters and hampering industry operations. End
Summary.

U.S. Inspectors Rate Nigerian TED Program Highly
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) On September 25 and 26 U.S. inspectors from OES and
NOAA spent two days observing Nigerian inspectors at work on
vessels from eight different shrimp trawling companies. They
were accompanied by the Director of the Nigerian Federal
Department of Fisheries, Sola Amire, the Assistant Director
Evaristus Edet, the Chief Fisheries Officer, Bola Kupolati,
and Poloff. The U.S. team was impressed by the Nigerian
regulations, which enabled the Department of Fisheries to
fine vessels for infractions of TED regulations without the
violator having recourse to court action. In the Nigerian
context, this allows rapid and effective enforcement of
sanctions against violators and reduces the opportunities for
corruption. Equally positive was the competence and
confidence of the Nigerian inspectors, who performed more
tests than mandated by the United States and clearly
commanded the respect of the Nigerian shrimp fishers. The
U.S. team praised the cooperative attitude of the industry
which was receptive to suggestions. To ensure that the U.S.
team could observe inspections on working vessels just back
from trawling and verify that the TEDs were actually in use,
fleet operators recalled vessels to port, interrupting their
fishing operations.

3. (U) At the end of the inspections, the U.S. team concluded
that the Nigerian program was one of the best they had seen
any where in the world. The inspection check list used, they
said, could serve as a model for other nations. The U.S. team
urged the Nigerians to take a leadership role in helping
other West African nations to adopt a TED program. It was
evident to the U.S. inspectors and Poloff that all Nigerian
participants welcomed the United States interest in their
work, and were gratified to receive recognition for their
achievements. The U.S. team commented to Poloff that this
contrasted with other countries, where the U.S. inspections
are sometimes perceived as interference or a burden.

Industry Hampered by Piracy, Poor Infrastructure
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (U) The U.S. team noted that the facilities housing the
Department of Fisheries in Lagos were the most run-down of
any they had ever seen, comparing unfavorably with much
poorer countries. The lack of electric power during the
entire visit at the facilities underlined the infrastructure
deficiencies which all industries in Nigeria face. Trawler
operators and Nigerian Department of Fisheries officials
stressed that piracy is increasing in Nigerian waters. More
than 49 incidents of piracy against the shrimp fleet
including the hijacking of vessels, the shooting of captains
and crewmen and the pillaging of boats have occurred in the
first nine months of this year alone. Because of the piracy
off the Nigerian coast, Nigerian trawler owners are
encountering increasing difficulty in recruiting and
retaining crewmen, and cannot risk outfitting their vessels

LAGOS 00000398 002 OF 002


with expensive electronic equipment.

5. (SBU) Comment: Despite adverse conditions, the Nigerians
have created a model TED program. The low-profile shrimp
industry, lacking the glamour and profits of industrial
sectors such as oil and natural gas or the prestige of major
infrastructure projects appears to have avoided unwanted
attention from the entrenched kleptocracy. In this context,
U.S. requirements and inspections provided the incentives and
encouragement for Nigerian technocrats and industry to
demonstrate their capabilities. End Comment.

6. This cable was cleared by Abuja.
BLAIR

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