Many illegal, unregulated and unregistered fishing activities at the port city of Harper in Maryland County have continued to invade the Liberian territorial over the past few years.
Such worrisome activities, according to heads of the three artisanal fishing communities at Harper City, continue to retard the socio-economic development, growth and progress of the fishermen and women in Maryland County.
These assertions were contained in separate interviews with the Daily Observer recently with three fishing community heads at the port city of Harper in Maryland County.
The fishermen and women in frustrated and discouraged moods expressed grave concern over the illegal and unregulated activities in Maryland waters. They sounded several calls on the Liberian Government and other major stakeholders in the fishing sector to swiftly intervene and curb the menace.
Shedding light on the number of occasions foreign fishing vessels are spotted in the area, the fishermen’s officials indicated that the vessels are seen every year and many complaints have been made to relevant authorities but no genuine redress has been forthcoming.
Hence, there is need for the Navy Division of the Armed Forces (AFL) personnel to be deployed at the port city of Harper to combat the current shockwave of illegal, unregulated and unregistered fishing activities in Liberian territorial waters in Maryland County.
According to Harper City’s fishermen and women, most of the foreign vessels spotted at the port city of Harper come from neighboring Ivory Coast and one with a Senegalese inscription during the peak season of fishing activities in the Liberian territorial waters in Maryland County.
The fishermen and women also explained that foreign vessels on many occasions spend countless months in Liberian waters, thus hampering the operations of Liberian and Ghanaian fishermen at the port city of Harper.
“We will perpetually continue to live in stench, squalor and poor housing conditions owing to the fact that our current incomes will not graduate us from the current abject poverty to any form of financial prosperity and economic progress,” the fishermen lamented.
In an exclusive interview with the Liberia Artisanal Fishermen Association’s coordinator (LAFA) Maryland County’s branch, Wesseh Doe called on the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) and key stakeholders in the fisheries sector of the nation to institute swift measures against the foreign vessels in that part of Liberia.
“Such swift measures and intervention would certainly improve the socio-economic conditions of fishermen and women at the port city of Harper in particular and Maryland County in general,” Coordinator Wesseh stressed.
For his part, the chairperson of the Old Kru Town fishing community, Davidson Seyon, stressed the urgent need for the Navy and Coast Guard Divisions of the Liberian Government and support partners to immediately move into the port city of Harper in order to redress the grave situation in Maryland County.
“Our lives as fishermen and women could only improve if foreign vessels are completely expelled from the Liberian territorial waters and fishing community’s members are given the necessary capacity and professional training in the fishing industry of the nation,” Chairperson Seyon emphasized.
In a related development, several fisherwomen groups at the port city of Harper have also sounded several calls on the relevant Liberian Government and other major stakeholders to take urgent action and clear the foreign vessels from the Liberian territorial waters in Maryland County.
Madam Vivian Baker, head of the Maryland County Fisherwomen Association, stressed the need for the Liberian Government and other stakeholders in the fisheries sectors to help remove the foreign fishing vessels from the Liberian territorial waters in that part of Southeastern Liberia.
Photo: Harbored Canoes of Liberian Fishermen (Want Foreign Vessels in Liberian Waters out) at Port City of Harper in Maryland County.