Liberia: NaFAA Commissions Fish Stock Assessment to Attract Industrial Fisheries

The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authorities (NaFAA) has commissioned a comprehensive fish stock assessment with a sole purpose of developing a management plan that would inform fisheries authorities on fish resources in Liberia’s territorial waters and the number of vessels to be lessened to fish.

The comprehensive fish stock assessment, which is the first of its kind initiated by the fisheries authorities, is expected to attract investors for industrial fishing activities in order to create jobs and to generate more revenues for the country.

NaFAA’s Director General Emma M. Glassco said with this assessment, the country’s fisheries sector is now at the verge of reaching an industrial level.

She made the disclosure yesterday to journalists in Monrovia when she commissioned the fish stock assessment.

“This process is complete as Liberia has successfully contracted the services of the Oceanographic Research Center of Dakar-Senegal (CRODT) to assess its coastal pelagic (mid water) and demersal (bottom) fish resources,” she said. 

The government of Liberia through NaFAA entered into a bilateral arrangement with the Senegalese government which later arranged with the Guinean government for the use of its research vessel “RV Lansana Conte” for the conduct of a comprehensive fish stock assessment across the country. 

Addressing a live media coverage in the front of “RV Lansana Conte” at the BMC Pier, Madam Glassco disclosed that Liberia will shortly achieve its potential in the fisheries sector following the comprehensive and independent fish stock assessment which will impact the nine coastal counties.

“This is a transition from small-scale fisheries to a commercially viable fishing industrial fisheries sector,” she said.

Glassco who disclosed that the entire financing of the stock assessment under the World Bank sponsored ‘Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Management Project’ is put at more than US$2 million said the stock assessment would reveal the entire potential of the Liberian Fisheries sector and at the same time mentioned that following the process across Liberia, fish importation will be minimized as such Liberian markets will be flooded with Liberian fish products.

“Liberia has a history of having an abundance of shelf fish, once the biggest exporter of seafood in the 1970s into Europe, Asia and other parts of the World. We have one of the best shrimps, but we cannot attract investors now because we do have any scientific information to prove that these species are available and obtain their geographical distribution across the continental shelf.”

The Liberian Fisheries Director General, who expressed optimism about the positive outcome of the fish stock assessment, revealed that following the research, the fisheries authority will obtain the net worth of Liberia’s marine resources at which time the ocean will be quantified, thus giving its overall value.

Speaking on the social impact the stock assessment would have after its conduct across Liberian waters, Glassco noted that there will be increased job opportunities through foreign investment following the conduct of the stock assessment.

Additionally, she mentioned that “if Liberia is to attract foreign investment, it will create more jobs and investors will build canneries, fish mills, as it is in Dakar and other fisheries nations in Africa and the world.”

She maintained that the outcome of the fish stock assessment would put Liberia on par with other fisheries nations in Africa and the world.

At the same time, the Senior Research Officer/Scientist of the Oceanographic Research Center of Dakar-Senegal (CRODT), Abdoulaye Sarré, expressed delight in their presence after two years of technical arrangements to conduct scientific research across Liberian waters so as to develop a management plan that would govern the fisheries sector.

Sarré, who recounted the number of countries in Africa where they have conducted successful fish stock assessments, promised that they would deliver on the results the Liberian government needs to open the sector.

Also making remarks at the commissioning ceremony was the World Bank task team leader and senior environmental specialist, Mr. Shafick Hoossein, who said the Bank was delighted to witness the commissioning of the vessel to conduct fish stock assessment in Liberia.

Hoosein said the fish stock assessment is proof that the World Bank sponsored fisheries project will leave a mark in the Liberian fisheries sector upon its completion.