The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) have announced a new era of working together to secure sustainable, legal, and equitable fisheries in Liberia.
During a meeting held Monday in Marshall City, Margibi County, NaFAA and EJF agreed to work together to achieve the goal of protecting Liberian fisheries through sustainable fishing for the overall improvement of the sector.
The two institutions pledged to strengthen collaboration to improve sustainable fisheries across Liberia by jointly playing vital roles in supporting the monitoring and management of the coastal ecosystems that provide food and livelihoods to fishing communities.
A NaFAA and EJF Joint press release quotes the Director-General of NaFAA, Emma Metieh Glassco, as saying that “creating prosperous, sustainable fisheries that support livelihoods and food security is the central goal for NaFAA, and we welcome the contributions of EJF to this crucial aim. Collaboration with local communities is a vital part of creating fair, effective fisheries management plans.”
The understanding between NaFAA and EJF will allow them to identify any gaps in fisheries management and create potential roadmaps for addressing those gaps. EJF’s EU-funded project ‘Communities for Fisheries’ is centered around facilitating ‘co-management fisheries regime’ where government authorities work with local fishing communities to create sustainable and equitable management plans.
The Executive Director of EJF, Steve Trent, said, “We are deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with NaFAA to build on the important progress they have already achieved. Co-management will benefit not only communities, but also policymakers who may have limited resources at their disposal, as well as providing the government with a source of specialist with local knowledge. Co-management in coastal communities will provide vital monitoring and surveillance in the fight against illegal fishing.”
NaFAA has already initiated progress in managing the country’s fisheries resources, as well as combatting illegal and unsustainable fishing. EJF has worked in Liberia for almost a decade, one of the few NGOs that remained throughout the Ebola crisis, and is now embarking on a four-year project funded by the European Union to help communities and authorities to co-manage fisheries and build lasting sustainability and equity into Liberia’s fishing sector.
Fishing is a vital source of food and income for coastal communities’ dwellers in Liberia. The sector provides full- time and part-time employment for 37,000 people and contributes about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product. Small-scale fisheries alone employ 33,000 people.
During these difficult times of COVID-19, fishing is especially important for food security as 80% of Liberians are dependent on fish for essential dietary protein. Improved sustainability, and through this, a greater abundance of fish, will reduce the risk of food shortages arising from declining catches.
The Environmental Justice Foundation is a UK-based charity working internationally to protect the environment and defend human rights. EJF is a charity registered in England and Wales.