By Victoria G. Wesseh
The President of the Seamen Port and General Workers Union (USPOGU) says exploitation has caused fishing vessels that operated in the country to withdraw at the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, calling for review of West Africa Regional Fisheries Project 2010 regulation to be preoccupied with the prevention of the spread of the Ebola epidemic that imposing huge fees on vessel owners.
The union’s executive pointed out that more than 100 fishermen have been put out of a job due to the unceremonious departure of vessel owners operating in the country. Addressing a news conference in Monrovia recently, Mr. Gueh blamed the departure of the ship owners were based on the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project 2010 regulation.
He told journalists that the WARF project is managed through the Fisheries Management office of the Bureau of National Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture. According to him, the regulation increased the monthly salary of US$300 to US$900 that the vessel owners were paying to the Bureau’s observer assigned on-board each ship. On the issue of US$900 salary, Mr. Gueh said that the shipowners were also forced to pay US$100 as salary to the Bureau’s inspector also assigned for each of the vessels.
He disclosed that the regulatory demands vessel operators to give to the Bureau, 10% of funds generated from every fishing trip they would make at sea, noting that he these are some of the regulations that have forced most of our investors, especially those in the fishing industry, to leave the county with their vessel.
With the pull out of vessel owners from the country, he explained that most of the fishermen are left without a job. “What I want you to know today is that the Global Ocean Fisheries Corporation is owned by a Korean national is the only fishing vessel that is currently operating in the county”.
But he accentuated that the Union had over 10 vessels prior to the regulation that were operating in Liberia which employed over 1000 Liberians that have now lost their jobs. He wondered, with these fees paid tearfully, how do you expect the investors to make a profit when they also have to pay their crews and purchase fuel for vessel? How do you think foreign company will operate in your county under such condition?
He said the Liberian government needs to intervene and help save the people from joblessness, emphasizing, “we need to reconsider the regulation [because] it is not in the interest of our people.”
Further, those out of a job have dependents, the Seamen boss noted, saying as of now, only Lebanese business people who are importing fish in the county thereby making the price of fish to increase in the county. When contacted by this paper, an executive of the Bureau of National Fisheries only identified as Kaye could not deny or confirm the allegations.
“I don’t want to make any comment on the issue, …. Continue reading