The fisheries section of the United Seaman Posts and General Workers Union has called on the Bureau of National Fisheries to revisit the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement signed with the European Union in 2015 under the leadership of former Agriculture Minister Madam Florence Chenoweth.
Part of the deal in the execution of the African Caribbean Pacific Group of States Agreement, which states that vessels fishing in the territorial water limit of any African country must employ the locals, was omitted.
Making the disclosure to the Daily Observer recently, the president of the United Seaman Posts and General Workers Union, Freeman T. Gueh, said that they were shocked that the agreement did not include the hiring of locals.
“As part of the sustainable fisheries partnership agreement with the EU, employment contracts of seamen from the African Caribbean Pacific Group of States Agreement (ACP) shall be drawn up between the vessels’ owners/representatives and the seamen or their trade union or representative, but we were shocked that our union was omitted from the final agreement,” said Gueh.
The omission of the union from the agreement has caused a huge workforce reduction in the union as local seamen complain that EU vessels with their own crew leave local seamen with almost nothing to take home to their families at the end of every month, Mr. Gueh added.
Gueh wants Liberia’s fishing laws and monitoring system to be the supportive arm of the union, whose interests represent the economic welfare of Liberian fishermen.
Gueh said suggesting the union to foreign vessels would be part of the government’s way of fulfilling the ACP agreement, which is a component of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement that the government signed with the EU.
“It would be a tremendous effort by the government as it would reduce the unemployment percentage among fishermen,” he said. “We are therefore suggesting that the government must go back to the sustainable fisheries partnership agreement and tell foreign vessels that are operating in Liberia that they should also employ Liberians, as this could be the means of empowering citizens again.”