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Following an appeal by a cross-section of fish mongers in Freetown for Government to address the current scarcity and high cost of fish products in the country, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Soccoh Kabia (in photo) has re-echoed his ministry’s determination to ensure that fish products are evenly distributed to every nook and cranny in the country.
Addressing a representative group of fish sellers who had threatened to protest against what they described as government’s failure to address the situation at his ministry’s conference hall, Dr. Kabia refuted allegations made against him, saying as political head of his ministry he was determined to promote President Koroma’s Agenda for Change which put great premium on the fisheries sector.
He underscored the fact that fish products are scarce and sold at exorbitant prices in the country but attributed the problems to a number of reasons, including bad weather conditions which prevent fishermen especially in artisinal fisheries from going out to fish.
He admonished them to ascertain the facts before making unnecessary allegations whilst assuring them that he will continue to work in their interest and that of government. Dr. Kabia intimated them about measures undertaken by his ministry to promote the industry and curb illegal fishing which he described as one of the key challenges facing the sector.
The fisheries minister thanked the fish mongers for raising their concerns and promised to put necessary measures that would address the situation in collaboration with key stakeholders, including Industrial Fishing Companies.
Deputy Minister of Fisheries, Feremusu Konteh empathized entreated them to form a fishmonger union that would seek their welfare and address plights in a coordinated fashion.
Expressing her concerns, chairlady of the Kroo Town Road Market fish sellers, Jariatu Sesay said the situation has led to unbearable hardship and suffering in the country. She apologized for squarely putting the blame on him and called on the minister to help alleviate them.
A representative of the Congo Market fish mongers, Rugiatu Jalloh thanked the minister for identifying himself with their plights. She also thanked the minister for introducing reforms aimed at streamlining the fisheries sector. She accused some of her colleagues who serve as agents of charging exorbitant prices far above the recommended prices while frowning at the long chain of agents dealing in fish products in out at fishing companies in Freetown. He urged the fisheries ministry to ensure that prices of fish products recommended by industrial fishing companies are publicized and maintained to avoid a continuation of the practice.
Madam Jalloh expressed dismay over the rate at which illegal fishing was going on in fishing areas like Goderich, Tombo and Aberdeen among others and called on the ministry to intensify their fight against the menace.
The meeting which also heard statements from a holder of the Member of the Rokel Award and fish monger at Kroo Town Road market, Madam Ernestine Coker-Fisher and other markets representatives was attended by senior management staff of the ministry.
By A. Max Konneh, Press Officer,MFMR
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