-House’s Plenary Votes for NaFAA to Make Deal Meet Requirements for Ratification
After days of fraught consultations and investigations on the Fishery Agreement between Liberia and Senegal, the Plenary of the House of Representatives has voted to endorse a report from its Joint Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Investment and Concession, that the Fishery Agreement is a “No Deal.’
The report said the Fishery Agreement is still at its embryonic (pre-natal) stage and needs to reach its threshold or maturity to meet legislative involvement because the Ministries of Justice and Finance and Development Planning are yet to sign the agreement to become a legal and binding instrument for ratification of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.
The House’s Joint Committee further said that any Senegalese business (institution) interested in the Liberian waters must meet the pre-conditions and all criteria set for licenses under our laws. The deal is known as “PROTOCOL ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT OF FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE COOPERATION BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SENEGAL AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA,”
“Honorable Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues, we are therefore pleased to recommend to this August Body that the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA)be given the chance to perform all due diligence concerning the protocol on the implementation of the Agreement on fisheries and Aquaculture cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Senegal and the Government of the Republic of Liberia,’ the joint committee’s report said.
The chairman and co-chairman of the Joint Committee, and chairmen on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Investment and Concession, Reps. Prince Topkah and Tibelrosa Tarponweh respectively, signed the report.
Others are members, including Rep. Lawrence Morris, Rep. Matthew Joe, Rep. Clarence Gahr and Rep. Byron Zahnwea, all of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committee. Members of the Investment and Concession Committee, who affixed their signatures, are Rep. Matthew Zarazr, Rep. Acarous Gray, Rep. Alex Grant, and co-chairperson Ellen Attoh-Wreh.
Despite of the House’s recommendation, that NaFAA should be given a chance to meet the full requirements for an approval from the Legislature, there has been much public outcry that the Senegal Fisheries’ Deal is counterproductive and that Liberia would not benefit in terms of including, employment, reduction in illegal fishing activities, and ensuring food security.
According to deal documents, NaFAA only confirmed that 300 Senegalese vessels, which include 200 semi-industrial and 100 artisanal canoes to fish in Liberia’s waters, the document states that vessels under the agreement will fish “in-demand” shrimp and tuna. The document further states that both shrimp and tuna would be extracted, in spite of the danger these fishing practices pose to marine ecosystem.”
The document further states that the “catch declaration” by vessels under the agreement will be submitted to the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority of Liberia (NaFAA) and declaration will be done at the end of each fishing trip and in all cases before the end of the following month.
The protocol states that any vessel failing to declare catch may be suspended by NaFAA until its situation is regularized and it license may be withdrawn if the irregularity of the situation on the concerned vessel exceeds six (6) months.
“When the owner of the vessel holding a license issued under this protocol violates the above provisions, the fisheries Authority of Liberia may suspend the said license until its situation is regularized. The license may be withdrawn if the irregularity of the situation of the concerned vessel exceeds six (6) months,” the document said.
NaFAA, according to the agreement with Senegal, will require the “declaration of catches” from all registered vessels and subsequently the “landing of catches” for certain vessels. NaFAA has not spelt out how it intends to confirm catch catch reports.