PLEEBO, May 30 (LINA) – The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has disclosed plans to construct a Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) in Maryland County to curb illegal fishing that has reportedly been taking place on Liberia’s territorial waters over the years.
The NaFAA is the government agency responsible to manage and regulate Liberia’s fisheries sector.
In an interview with the Liberia News Agency (LINA) recently, NaFAA Deputy Director General for Technical Services, William Y. Boeh, disclosed that a Fisheries Monitoring Center will be constructed in Harper “very soon » to crackdown on migrant fishermen who are reportedly intruding in Liberian waters which, he said, has over the years made Government to lose millions of dollars in revenue.
Mr. Boeh pointed out that the Fishing Monitoring Center in Monrovia is not enough to cover the entire country.
The initiative, he said, is being funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
He said though government has been intervening by confiscating fishing boats on two occasions, illegal fishermen believed to be Burkinabes, Ivoirians, Ghanaians and Togolese have reportedly continued to take away Liberia’s fish resources.
As to why Maryland County was selected, Mr. Boeh said Maryland is an area of focus due to its location along the Ivorian border.
Mr. Boeh added that NaFAA, through the support of its partners, will train staff who will operate the center.
At the same time, the NaFAA official said his agency is working with the National Coast Guard, the Liberia Immigration Service and local authorities as well as local fishermen in coastal counties to launch a « Community Surveillance » program to enable regular patrol over the waters.
He pointed out that extra outboard engines from the recently-donated Japanese outboard YAMAHA engines will be set aside for the monitoring purpose.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority with support from the Japanese Government recently distributed several outboard engines to fishing cooperatives in the four Southeastern Counties of Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe and River Cess.
As part of the distribution exercise, fishing cooperatives in Maryland received 35 outboard engines along with 192 bundles of thread nets.
He disclosed that FAO and other partners are procuring Automatic Identification System (AIS) to be placed on Liberian fishing vessels for daily monitoring.
Boeh attributed the reported intrusion by migrant fishermen to the depletion of neighboring countries’ fisheries resources.
« The reason why they enter our waters is because some of those countries around us have gone out of stock, » he stressed.
The NAFAA official added that the six member countries comprising the « Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea » is also working to mitigate illegal fishing in the sub-region.
The member countries of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Liberia are meeting regularly to discuss problems affecting their privacies, according to Boeh.
« The Japanese Government, European Union, World Bank, EJS and the Blue Ocean program are providing support in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in Liberia, » he disclosed.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority, according to Boeh, has contacted a research expert institution to conduct stock assessment so as to determine the quantity and quality of fishes in Liberian waters.
« Director General Emma Glassco, in her own wisdom, decided that stock assessment is important, » Boeh told LINA reporter.
It can be recalled that a local fishing group in Maryland County, Atena Fishing Cooperative, recently raised concern over “constant intrusion” into their territorial waters by Ivorian fishermen.