Stakeholders from Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia pose for photo
By Mark B. Newa
Convinced that illegal fishing is robbing governments in the West African region where the practice is taking center state, regional ministers in West Africa have embarked on a fight geared towards reducing illegal fishing so as to increasingly contribute to marine fish resources to local economies.
“We have setup a task force to strengthen our resolve to be able to stop and curtail to a significant degree of unreported, unregulated and illegal fishing in our waters”, the Acting Minister of Agriculture Charles McClain said.
He spoke at a workshop on West African Regional Collaboration for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS).
The workshop brought together officials from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Ghana and was held at a local hotel.
Deputy Minister McClain who proxied for Minister Florence Chenoweth said the program is a regional approach intended to fight illegal unregulated and unreported fishing in the West African waters.
”Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities have resulted in huge economic losses in excess of US$100 million annually,” he said and pointed out that the objective of the project was to strengthen the capacity of Liberia to govern and manage targeted fisheries, reduce illegal fishing and increase local value added to fish products.
“The project components covers good governance and sustainable management; reduce illegal fishing as well as coordination, monitoring and program management”, Dr. McClain asserted.
At the end of the consultative interaction amongst stakeholders, he said, a draft national fisheries and aquaculture policy will be documented.
Also in a statement, Dr. Soccoh Kabia, Minister of fisheries and Marine Resources of Sierra Leone said his country has put in place mechanism in controlling illicit drugs, piracy and human smuggling in the region.
“We have developed policy with the objective of securing food security in Sierra Leone”, the Minister added, but did not break down the scope of and components of the policy developed.
He further said as part of his country`s intervention, a fishing boat was arrested while escaping from the Liberian waters and was sent back to the Liberian authority.
For his part, Ivory Coast Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries Mr. Kouassa Adjoumani said it was important for his country which is hit by crisis, thereby causing a serious pillaging of fish resource by foreign vessels; a situation that led to significant decline in the sector.
“As a phenomenon in the sub-region, illicit fishing contributes to low level of fishery, conservation of fishery and marine biodiversity as far as the sector is concern”, the Ivorian Minister said.
The project which is part of the Bureau of National Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture was sponsored by the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program in Liberia (WARFP).