Statistics from the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) showed that Liberia has topped seven West African countries placing first on monitoring, surveillance, and control of its waters from illegal fishing activities. These countries include Ghana, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau.
Recently, through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Liberia hosted a regional workshop attended by all stakeholders in the fisheries sector that extensively discussed the issues of illegal practices in West African waters.
Officials of the BNF told the Daily Observer during the three day workshop, that the discussions were planned by the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) based in Dakar, Senegal in collaboration with the MOA and BNF in Liberia.
The workshop was held under the theme: ‘National Sensitization Workshop on the Operational Guide to Facilitate the Implementation of the FAO Agreement on Port-state Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU).’
The workshop drew participants from agencies of the Liberian Government that are associated with the monitoring, surveillance, and control activities in Liberian territorial waters.
In an interview with the Daily Observer during the workshop held at the Ministry of Agriculture, BNF Coordinator William Y. Boeh, said that the workshop looked at issues such as the industrial fishing activities in Liberian territorial waters.
Commenting on the number of participants from line ministries and agencies, Mr. Boeh disclosed that two participants were selected from each entity and 40 professional and resource persons were assembled for the three days workshop in Monrovia.
Agencies in attendance at the workshop included the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), the Coast Guard Division (CGD), the Justice Ministry, the Liberian Seamen Union, the MOA, and BNF among others.
Boeh furthered that senior personnel from the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission from Dakar, Senegal made presentations during the workshop that provided extensive sensitization messages that prepared the participants for the implementation of MSC mechanisms in the country.
The Director of Research and Statistics of the BNF, D. Wisseh Kay, disclosed that since the Liberian Government and its partners initiated the monitoring and control system a few years ago, the marine resources of the nation are protected and secured.
Director Kay also intimated that these measures have deterred illegal fishing activities in the Liberian territorial waters for the past several years.
Mr. Kay also disclosed that the BNF has developed a strategy where a device is mounted on any vessel that comes to fish in Liberian territorial waters. The device is then closely monitored by trained BNF personnel.
He further said that vessels caught outside of the fishing area would be dealt with by the appropriate authorities who would be acting based on the fishing regulations of the country.
“I cannot readily provide you with statistics on the number of vessels caught for IUU violations in Liberia at the moment, because our records are being compiled,” Director Kay concluded.