Madam Emma M. Glassco, Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) over the weekend launched a four-year fisheries project, titled, ‘Communities for Fisheries Project’, that seeks to empower coastal communities to co-manage fisheries and to reduce illegal fishing for a sustainable fisheries sector in Liberia.
The project, funded by the European Union (EU), is being implemented by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) in partnership with NaFAA to safeguard food security and livelihoods in four coastal counties including Margibi (Marshall) Grand Cape Mount (Robertsport), Grand Bassa (Buchanan) and Grand Kru (Grand Cess).
The EU has allocated funds to the EJF to enhance livelihoods for small-scale fishers and to improve local sector governance and operationalise sustainable management of fisheries by communities. The project shall engage Kru and Fanti fishermen as well as fishmongers and fish processors.
The prevalence of illegal and overfishing activities in the Liberian territorial waters continues to threaten the food security of 80% of the country’s population that depend on fish for essential dietary protein. In addition, over 33,000 people, including 11,000 fishers, rely on the fishing industry as their source of income to support their families. The health of the fish stocks means there is still a good potential for Liberia to increase its income from fisheries in a sustainable manner, while safeguarding livelihood for artisanal fisherman and the major source of protein for coastal populations.
Launching the project, NaFAA boss Emma Glasso expressed thanks on behalf of the government and people of Liberia to the EU for supporting the fisheries sector to ensure food security.
“We want to acknowledge the numerous supports from our partners, especially the EU, toward the fisheries sector. The level of support is highly welcome as it is addressing challenges within the sector,” she said.
According to her, the ‘Communities for Fisheries Project’ is one of the projects being supported by the EU to address challenges in fisheries sector, especially illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“The project will create effective community co-management associations to secure legal and sustianable fisheries in Liberia,”she added.
She assured NaFAA’s commitment in providing technical support and ensure oversight to make the project a success.
“We will ensure oversight as our involvement will go beyound just chairing the steering commitee. We shall monitor the project deliverables, considering its timeline to meet or demonstrate the impact on the local population,” she stated.
Madam Glassco added that the project was aligned with Pillar Two of the Liberian Government’s Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), which involves improvement of the fisheries sector.
Also speaking, Laurent Delahousse, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Liberia, reiterated that ensuring healthy and sustainable fish stocks will allow Liberia to increase its income from fisheries, while safeguarding livelihoods for artisanal fishers and securing the major source of protein for coastal populations.
He said that fisheries was esential to the development of Liberia’s economy and so the EU has seen the need to support Liberia in such endeavor.
He used the occasion to assure the EU’s commitment in supporting Liberia’s developmental agenda in many areas.
For his part, EJF Country Manager Cephas Asare said that illegal fishing was seriouly hampering the Liberian fisheries sector. “Trawlers fishing illegally in Liberia’s waters are able to catch vast amounts of seafood, destroying marine ecosystems and impoverishing local communities. However, fishing communities can act as custodians of the resources they rely on, safeguarding the sustainability of Liberia’s waters. EJF is delighted to be launching Communities for Fisheries, which is enabled by the generous funding support of the European Union. We’re deeply appreciative of the opportunity to work with the Liberian Government, communities and local networks and especially alongside the EU Delegation,” he said.
He added that the overall objective of the project is to better support the livelihoods of coastal communities and safeguarding the food security of 11,000 direct beneficiaries and 56,000 indirect beneficiaries through improved management and governance of the marine ecosystems and fish stocks in Liberia.
The launch brought together prominent figures including the Head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, the Director General of NaFAA, Madam Emma Metieh Glassco and other key stakeholders and partners across the fisheries sector in Liberia.