As part of an effort to support the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) in reporting Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities in Liberia, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), with funding from the European Union (EU), has conducted a one-day capacity building workshop for at least ten journalists in Monrovia.
The training also aimed to seek the intervention of the media to understand how to report on curbing illegal fishing activities and raise gender issues in the fisheries sector.
The day-long event, which took place on September 28, 2021, was initiated by NaFAA in partnership with the EJF and brought together journalists from Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, and Margibi Counties.
The workshop also sought to deepen journalists' understanding of how to amplify issues of concern with a specific focus on women in the fisheries sector of Liberia.
The training was part of EJF’s five-year project, which is in partnership with NaFAA. It also looks at creating skilled, capable and effective community co-management associations to secure legal and sustainable fisheries in the country.
The project, entitled “Communities for Fisheries Project”, is being implemented by the EJF to support the government of Liberia to develop sustainable fisheries management.
Giving an overview of the project, Cephas Asare, Project Manager, EJF, told the participants that Liberia’s marine fisheries offer irreplaceable natural resources that play a critical role in the economy. Therefore journalists play a critical role in telling the stories in the fisheries sector, he explained.
He added the project aims to reduce illegal fishing and improve the sustainability of fisheries by expanding and strengthening Community Co-Management Associations (CMA) and creating effective capacity for community monitoring and building the capacity of small-scale fishers, stressing that the EJF will work with communities in four coastal counties: Margibi, Grand Kru, Grand Bassa, and Grand Cape Mount.
Mr. Asare told a cross-section of participants that the project’s overall objective is to better support coastal livelihoods and food security of 11,000 direct beneficiaries and 56,000 indirect beneficiaries through improved management and governance of the marine ecosystems and fish stocks in Liberia.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Asare noted that if the issues of illegal fishing and other illegal activities must be reduced, it requires the full support of the media.
“The role of the media is very critical in this and that’s why we have decided to invite you here today to get engaged,” he added.
According to him, the project will further improve the sustainability of fisheries by expanding and strengthening community co-management associations, creating effective capacity for community monitoring and reporting of illegal fishing.
According to him, this will also support co-management association development in the four project sites to create strong and transparent local governance structures and procedures for reporting illegal fishing and build the capacity of small-scale fishers and representative organizations.
It will enhance fisheries monitoring and management, create a network where they will share best practices and technical expertise for sustainable and legal fisheries planning and management.
Musu London, Technical Officer for Gender and Community Participation, stressed the importance of understanding gender concepts, the social construct of gender and gender stereotypes in the fisheries sector. She expressed the belief that if journalists understand gender issues, it will promote women in the sector.
Madam London mentioned that women have over the years been a strong force behind fisheries, but they have been at a disadvantage for so long because of the position society has placed them in. She stated that despite the critical role women play in the sector they are yet to be recognized.
The Deputy Director-General for Technical Service at (NaFAA), William Boeh, acknowledged the Economic importance of fisheries, in terms of creating jobs and revenue for the government.
Mr. Boeh expressed optimism that in the next five years, NaFAA looks forward to generating more revenue from the sector.
“We cannot do this alone, we need the media’s support to achieve this.”
He further mentioned that NaFAA is making sure that fishermen in all parts of the country pay for their license in order to carry out their fish farming activities.
According to Mr. Boeh, IUU affects the global economy by the loss of US$23 billion annually and is one of the most affected regions in West Africa, which have lost up to US$2.5 billion from 2010-2016 in six countries. Liberia lost approximately US$70 million during the period from 2010 to 2016.
He, however, did not mention Liberia’s current standing since 2016, but stressed that IUU threatens fisheries resources and marine ecosystems and undermines national and regional efforts to manage sustainably and conserve marine biodiversity.
“IUU fishing severely affects coastal and Small Island developing states that are heavily dependent on fisheries for national economies, employment, people’s livelihoods, food security, and the environment."