The commercial hub of Paynesville over the weekend witnessed a temporary closure of six cold storage facilities, including the famous Chinese Cold Storage in the Nee Zoe Community for reasons ranging from not being in compliance with National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority’s regulations, being in possession of juvenile and rotten fish, operating within unhygienic environment and lack of safety gears for their workers, a release has said.
According to the release, the joint inspection team which was previously led by the director general of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Mrs. Emma Glassco Friday, April 27, shut down a total of six cold storage facilities in Red Light market and in the Neezoe community.
The cold storage affected temporarily as a result of the inspection exercise were the Chinese cold storage in Neezoe community, SCODI Liberia, and National Frozen Food all along the Gobachop market road, African ZHONG CHENG HAI, Mohamed Frozen Food, and KASSEM MOCHAWRAB Center.
The joint team discovered during the several hours of inspection that throughout Red Light Market and the Neezoe Community all of the cold storage were not part of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority data, lack proper safety gear for their workers, and were operating without licenses from NaFAA and the Ministry of Health.
Upon the arrival of the joint inspection team at the Famous Chinese cold storage, it was discovered that they were operating in an unhygienic environment particularly with an offensive smell from the bathroom near the main operating cool storage which had some large species of fish.
As for the African ZHONG CHENG HAI along Bob Taylor road, Mohamed Frozen Food, and the National Frozen Food cold storages, they all had several cartons of rotten fish ready to be sold on the market through their numerous customers.
According to some of the marketers who witnessed the action of the joint inspection team “those rotten fish are bought by cold bowl sellers who are in the habit of paying little for huge quantities of supplies which are already contaminated.”
African ZHONG CHENG HAI , Mohamed Frozen Food, and National Frozen Food cold storages were also shut down for illegally operating without obtaining required documents from the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority and the Ministry of Health and as well as operating in an unhygienic environment.
The owners of the KASSEM MOCHAWRAB Center in the commercial hub of Red Light were also operating without the knowledge of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority and the Ministry of Health.
During the joint inspection, the director of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority Mrs. Emma Glassco cautioned operators of the affected cold storages in Red Light Market and Neezoe Community to regularize their status with NaFAA and the Ministry of Health.
She reminded them that NaFAA is responsible for regulating all fishing activities in Liberia and it includes the operation of cold storage facilities.
Meanwhile, upon the reopening of the six cold storages Saturday, April 28, the Deputy Director for Technical Services at the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority gave the operators one week to ensure their registration with NaFAA.
“If any of the cold storage operators fail to come over to the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority in the first week of May the joint inspection team will have no alternative but to fully implement the laws,” Mr. Boeh indicated.
Several of the cold storage operators meanwhile expressed willingness to regularize their status to set matters straight with the government. One of the Lebanese cold storage operators pointed out that “actually this was not done during the past administration and as a result, we were unaware of such registration processes or obtaining licenses before operating a cold storage in Liberia.”
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) regulates all fishing activities on the sea and rivers across Liberia and the operation of all cold storages. NaFAA issues industrial fishing vessels’ licenses to fish in Liberian waters, thus generating revenue for the Government of Liberia.
NaFAA, which came into being after the passage of an act in October 2017 was previously known as the Bureau of National Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and later transferred to the Liberia Maritime Authority as a bureau.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority is also responsible to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing at national and international level. Therefore, NaFAA is ensuring that legal fishing activities take place Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Margibi, and Maryland Counties.