Launches awareness on canoes registration, but fishermen say fees are high
Emma Glassco, Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), says Liberia is expected to immensely benefit from the World Bank fisheries agreement, recently signed with the Government of Liberia.
The Ministry of Finance Planning and Development on January 21 2020, signed the Preparatory Project Advancement Agreement to receive an initial US$3.7 million out of US$40 million for the Fisheries Project with the World bank to revamp the fisheries sector.
According to NaFAA, the US$3.7 million is an initial pre-finance that will be used to conduct environmental social impact assessment and to do the design of the industrial fishing facility.
The agreement comes after several diplomatic negotiations back and forth for about 2 years.
Making the assertion on Thursday, January 23 at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing, Madam Glassco told journalists that the entire package (US$40 million) will rehabilitate and expand the Montserrado fishing pier into an industrialized modern fishing facility to ensure value addition and increase the supply of fish products for both domestic and export markets.
“This will ensure the availability of more fish on the local market and raise more revenues for the Government. By constructing mini jetties in the various coastal counties through the use of this money, there will be improvement in the livelihood of the citizens in fishing communities,” she said.
Madam Glassco however said that there are number of challenges facing the fisheries sector, which NaFAA is addressing.
“Some challenges we are encountering involve getting license fees for fishermen, as they are not cooperating, as well as accreditation for fish export,” she stated.
According to her, NaFAA intends to partner with fishing industries in Ghana to process fish products due to Liberia’s lack of accreditation.
“We are working to procure equipment to meet international standards, so that we can get accreditation, as no country can do direct export without meeting certain requirements.
Aquaculture not part of US$40M
Commenting on the development of the aquaculture sector, Madam Glassco clarified that the current World Bank money is not intended to develop that particular sector. However, she recalled that, under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberia attracted US$5 million to revamp the aquaculture sector.
Madam Glassco, however, mentioned that considering the vast potential of the sector for job creation and revenue, her entity intends to partner with private firms to transform the sector.
“The current World Bank loan is not intended to build the capacity of local aquaculture farmers. It’s mainly meant to develop the marine fishery sector. The Government is thinking on developing the aquaculture sector by partnering with Nigerian and Ghanaian fishing enterprises,” she clarified.
According to her, one of the major challenges facing aquaculture production in the country is the improvement of the hatchery.
“We are seeking foreign investors to take over our hatchery to grow the fingerling and other species. We want the sector to become private sector driven so that local farmers can improve incomes.
“This sector can improve the living conditions of rural citizens. In fact, fisheries in general are geared toward aquaculture production. So we would like to greatly encourage our citizens to venture in this sector,” she added.
Meanwhile on Friday, January 24, 2020, authorities of NAFAA embarked on an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging local fishermen to register their canoes in order to continue fishing.
The campaign is being supported by some officers of the joint security, comprising the Liberia National Police, Liberia National Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Speaking during the meeting at the West Point Fishing Community in Monrovia, Madam Glassco said that the intent of the exercise is to raise needed revenues for the country to help the Government implement its mandate to improve the living conditions of the citizens.
She said that her institution has come with reasonable fees for various kinds of canoes and therefore pleads with all local fishermen to comply with the regulations.
The annual new license fee for both small and big canoes ranges from US$250 to US$1,500, according to NaFAA.
Madam Glassco informed the fishermen that the administration of President George M. Weah is doing all it can to improve the living conditions of the members of the fishing communities.
“Under this administration, fishermen, especially those registered, will begin to receive nets on a free-of-charge basis. We are also providing motorized engines boats to allow our local fishermen improve their catches as well as making provision for loans to empower our fish mongers, many of whom are women,” she told the communities of fishermen during the meeting.
However, local fishermen, particularly at the West Point Community, appeared not to agree with the mandate from NaFAA regarding the registration fees.
The fishermen, in an exclusive interview with reporters stated that the new fees regulation is high and they would like for the authorities of NaFAA to consider reduction.
‘We want NaFAA to please reduce the fees to 15,000 LD instead of US$1,000, for the local big canoes and others. These fees put forward are too high and fishermen cannot afford,” said Kofi Kwansah, chief fisherman in West Point.