Many Liberians, especially those in the interior parts of country, do not actually know how vital fishermen and women are in the development, growth and progress of any nation, Liberia being of no exception.
In a realistic context, the fishermen and women’s contributions in the fisheries sector are critical to this country’s livelihood and economy.
First and foremost fish in the general and professional context gives vital support to the food and nutrition components of the nation’s food basket.
Regrettably, the fisheries sector of Liberia has been neglected, depriving it of the opportunity of contributing to the nation’s growth and development.
Principally, the fishery sector of Liberia due to the 15-year civil conflict has not also played that crucial role and made significant contributions in the generation of requisite revenue for the Liberian economy.
Other major challenges include the continuous violation of the Liberian territorial waters by stronger foreign vessels due to weak enforcement of laws and regulations governing the fishery sector of the country.
Very good laws and regulations have been crafted and documented by stakeholders and support partners of the sector but, the issues of implementation execution and enforcement have been the primary challenge, impediment and hurdle.
Basically, another challenge is that the various fishery communities have not been able to establish leadership structures that could perhaps assist them advocate for technical, financial and empowerment programs and projects.
Henceforth, it has been gathered that fishermen and women carrying out their regular routines at high seas have been confronted with the heavy weight of the bigger foreign vessels.
In Liberia, fishermen and women have only been using the wooden canoes that most times cannot withstand the strong wave of the Atlantic Ocean.
Realistically, in other neighboring countries, the wooden canoes is gradually becoming a thing and practice of the past and efforts should be directed at enhancing the professional capacities of fishermen and women in the country.
Sadly, current methods being used in the preservation of the fishes must be modernized, which would enhance and improve the socio-economic conditions of the Liberian fishermen and women throughout the country.
Important to mention, structures being built in various fishing communities are shanty owing to perhaps the inability of the fishermen and women to generate sufficient funds that will make them able to build better houses and establish sustained business entities.
Besides, one of the grave issues, these fishermen and women have raised is that that bigger foreign vessels continue to hunt the smallest marine lives in several parts of the Liberian territorial waters.
Notwithstanding, in concrete realization of these glaring challenges and constraints, collaborative partnerships in form of technical and financial assistance have being given to the West Africa Fisheries Project (WARFP-Liberia) by the World Bank.
Accordingly, WARFP-Liberia in collaboration with the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), has conducted series of professional capacity building initiatives with fishermen and women in the port city of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
Important also to mention, the MOA, BNF, Armed Forces of Liberia’s Navy Division and other critical support partners have been able to establish a well-designed monitoring system that has enhanced the surveillance in Liberian territorial waters for the past few years.
Interestingly, fishermen and women in Robertsport have benefitted from several extensive trainings in the areas of co-management, preservation techniques, financial and administrative skills for the past few years.
On top of that, a number of fishermen and women from that port city have been exposed to foreign travels in order to gain fresh hand understanding of organization and management.
Moreover, Liberia has been rated as topping seven other West African countries in the overall implementation of the illegal, unregulated and unregistered activities in its territorial waters in recent past years.
Through one of the World Bank’s major assistance packages, WARFP-Liberia, MOA and BNF have broken ground for the construction of a US$1.7 million dollars landing site in the fishery community of Robertsport in Grand Cape Mount County.