— Fishing communities placed an SOS call
Two fishermen, all residents of the Robertsport City in Grand Cape Mount county, have reportedly gone missing on the sea.
Local fishermen told this reporter that the fishermen left the shore of Kru Town Beach for the sea between the hour of 2 am and 3 am on April 15, 2021, and are yet to return home.
In an interview via telephone, the head of the Liberian owned fishing company Enisul Fisheries, Fablia Kamara, said that the men went deep sea with a paddle canoe (a canoe that has no motorized engine attached) where his team spotted another fisherman that had survived the storm at deep sea.
“Three men went fishing with a small paddle vessel. The storm hit, my vessel was a few feet over them. We managed to anchor since our vessel was much bigger and had machined attached. After an hour, a guy came paddling.
He said that they were hit by a wave. He stuck in the canoe while his two colleagues swam to retrieve items that they were losing. After a while, he could not see the other two guys. My guys pulled anchor and searched everywhere but the storm was very strong and we were running out of fuel. We came back to the beach with just one person. We mobilize to go back and we been searching but nothing,” said Fabolia Kamara, CEO of Enisu Fisheries.
In the low-income coastal communities where most semi-industrial and artisanal fishing activities take place, complaints about safety at sea have been high yet interventions from national authorities linger.
Charles Sampson, Chairman of the Co-Management Authority (CMA) in Roberstport, a community-based organization collaborating with the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), said that a lot of causalities occurred about this time of the year in fisheries communities where artisanal and semi-industrial fisheries dominate.
“ We have had most of our men gone missing during this time of year. The wet season (rainy season) is a challenging period for the local fishermen. Unexpected storms at the deep-sea cause so much loss to fishing communities. Fishermen lost their materials and even their lives during this period,” said Sampson via a telephone interview.
Small-scale fisheries employ most people in the coastal area and island communities in Liberia. An estimated 33,000, most of who are women, make their living from activities along the fish value chain by trading to low-income communities in Liberia. Like many African countries, fish is the primary source of animal protein for the Liberian population.
However, safety at sea remains a major threat to local fishing communities’ contributions to national food security as most small-scale vessels in the country lack life-safety gadgets, and information-sharing equipment to signal emergencies at sea.