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Duncan Coplan, Chief Campaigner of the Environmental Justice Foundation, has revealed that Sierra Leone is loses over twenty-nine million US dollars annually as a result of illicit fishing activities going on in the territorial waters. (Photo: Haja Afsata Kabba)
The Chief Campaigner made this statement during a discussion with the Minister of Marine Resources on the issue of research on fisheries management in the country. The report, he said, was published in the interest of the country and pledging his organization’s desire to provide a patrol vessel that would help in the surveillance of the country’s territorial waters also promising to organize a workshop on fisheries management and appreciated Sierra Leone’s commitment to upholding the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as the Ports State Measures signed in Rome.
Haja Afsatu Kabba thanked the EJF Campaigner for the compliment and thanked members of the organization for identifying themselves with problems confronting Sierra Leone’s fishing industry.Â She also thanked EJF for producing what she referred as a “well researched” documentary on artisanal and the fishing industry in Sierra Leone, saying that it would go a long way in exposing the activities of unscrupulous fishing vessel operators.
With regards to reference to the just ended ceremony of the launching of the Pilot Project for Sustainable Coastal Zone Management in Sierra Leone.Â Madam Kabba said her Ministry has taken the lead in instituting and enforcing a ban on all illegal fishing activities such as the use of small mesh size nets and destructive fishing methods such as “Channel” and “Mina” fishing that target juvenile fish.
In order to protect and converse the country’s coastal and marine biodiversity, Mrs. Afsatu Kabba said with the help of the EU- funded “Institutional Support to Fisheries Management Project” and other stakeholders, her Ministry has proposed four Marine Protected Areas – the Scarcies River Estuary, the Sierra Leone River Estuary, the Yawry Bay, Kagboro Creek and the Sherbro River Estuary along the coast of Sierra Leone.
The Minister further appealed to other Ministries, Departments and Agencies to join her Ministry in the fight to protect the country’s biodiversity and thanked donors and other partners for their support.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Minister has, at a press conference, briefed members of the media on a number of issues relating to her Ministry including regulations governing the fisheries sector.
She stated that due to the widespread use of illegitimate fishing methods, the Ministry has undertaken a nationwide elimination of destructive artisanal fishing gears with the objective of promoting responsible exploitation of fisheries resources for improved fish yields and increased income for artisanal fishers.
In bid to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, she further disclosed that her Ministry has signed an agreement with the U.S.A. Coast Guards to carry out fisheries patrols in Sierra Leone’s maritime waters.Â This initiative, Mrs. Kabba revealed, has resulted in the arrest of a number of illegal fishing boats.
The Minister also informed the press that the Ministry, in partnership with other stakeholders, has commenced the mandatory inspection of all fishing vessels at Kissy Dockyard with a view to facilitating the monitoring of their landing obligations, minimize risks of importation of harmful drugs and narcotics, ensure fishing vessel owners adhere to fisheries regulations and key conservation measures.
She lamented that operators of vessels are constantly violating rules and regulations governing the fisheries sector with impunity thereby, depriving Government of the much needed revenue.
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