The Liberian fisheries sector is at the verge of improving as the government of Liberia has officially signed a financing agreement for the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project, worth US$40 million, aimed at improving fisheries management and enhancing livelihood and income for government and targeted beneficiaries.
Speaking during the official signing ceremony on Tuesday, October 19, the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), in a joyous mood, mentioned that the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project will lead to the expansion of the Mesurado fishing pier which was constructed decades ago.
Emma Metieh Glassco disclosed during the ceremony that upon the completion of the Mesurado Pier into an industrial port, it would allow more than 77 industrial fishing vessels to land their catches. Additionally, she emphasized that the gains to be reaped from this project remain immense, ranging from the creation of job opportunities for ordinary Liberians through the establishment of fish processing facilities and cold storages, to the overwhelming increment in revenue generation by the national government.
“All of the catches from those industrial vessels are landing at neighboring countries and, therefore, those countries’ domestic markets are supplied with huge quantities of fish and fish products, thus denying the Liberian population of much needed fish supply,” she asserted.
Commenting further, Glassco, who has been upbeat for such World Bank support, explained that upon taking the helm of NaFAA, she urged President George Manneh Weah and the Finance Minister Samuel Tweah to make fisheries a top priority because of the potential the sector has to transform the Liberian economy.
“At the same time, Liberia is losing 50% of its fisheries revenue to other countries due to the lack of industrial ports,” she explained. “So, now is the time that Liberia reclaims all of those losses after the construction of the industrial port at the Mesurado pier on Bushrod island.”
She indicated that in the absence of the industrial port, Liberia as a coastal state is currently importing US$60 million worth of fish and fish products per year, which is about 28,000 metric tons. According to her, it is not good news because of Liberia's status as a coastal state. Madam Glassco mentioned that despite being a coastal state, Liberia lacks the ability to adequately supply its own population with the needed supply of fish.
She recalled that several studies were done by Liberian fisheries technicians at NaFAA to verify all of the claims, such as the loss of revenue, lack of ability to supply protein to the population, among other things, which have resulted in this historic signing ceremony.
Glassco said the three times expansion of the Mesurado Pier will lead to the creation of huge job opportunities for Liberia and Liberians, provide a huge supply of fish on Liberian markets at a cheaper rate, reduce the net importation of fish and part of the money will provide landing sites for the local fishermen.
“Landing and cold storage facilities are serious challenges facing the Liberian fisheries sector,” she said. “These are issues that make the fisheries sector look dormant.”
According to her, “under the President George Weah Administration, the fishing activities will be transformed as fishermen would no longer be pulling their canoes with much physical strength; they will be going to sea with ice; upon return from fishing, they would land their catches at the designated landing sites that will be constructed with the World Bank financial support.”
Also making remarks at the signing ceremony, World Bank Country Manager Dr. Khwima assured that the project will support the needed interventions across the whole value chain, such as investments in new alternative vessels and fishing gears for getting the fish from the sea; and a modern landing fishing harbor at the Mesurado pier in Monrovia.
Dr. Khwinma also added that under the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project, there would be the “construction of access roads, services and market halls, so that the fish is easily marketed.”
For his part, finance Minister Samuel Tweah declared that the Liberian economy is moving towards the fisheries sector with the huge support of the World Bank financial support through the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project.
Minister Tweah said the signing of the World Bank financing agreement will provide opportunities for Liberian fishermen as they stand to immensely benefit through the transformation of their livelihoods.