MONROVIA – The Government of Liberia, through the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NAAFA), and the fishery industry have agreed to work together to abolish illegal fishing in Liberian waters.
NAAFA said it has visited major beaches in Montserrado and other coastal counties to inform fishermen and women about the agreement that will see all fishermen being registered under one umbrella before carryout fishing activities within Liberia’s territorial waters.
The agreement titled, “Collaborative Management Association (CMA),” calls for all fishermen to be registered with the government before putting their boats on the waters. They warned that anyone not part of this agreement will not be allowed legally to do fishing in Liberia.
The purpose of the agreement is also intended to give legal recognition, to negotiated responsibilities for sustainable management and good governance of the fishery resources.
This is to also ensure a sustainable source of livelihood for coastal communities, provision of voice and platform for fishing community participation in decision making in fisheries administration and governance; and establishment of a framework for coordination, planning and implementation of interventions for socio-economic advancement of the fishing communities.
NAAFA disclosed that during its negotiation campaign to encourage fishermen to adhere and submit to the CMA, promised to improve the fishing sector by providing modernized fishing.
To achieve these purposes, the agreement provides for cooperation between NaFAA Management and members of the CMA in all the nine coastal counties to implement the fisheries co-management plan prepared for the CMA.
The Director General of NAAFA, Madam Emma Metieh-Glassco, told fishermen that for them, the CMA calls for them to provide monitoring, control and surveillance operations at the community level for enforcement and compliance with the fisheries regulations of 2010.
According to Madam Glassco, the regulations state that conservation and management measures shall be developed, to the extent possible; “Taking into account consultations with stakeholders and may be implemented inter alia through Fisheries Management Plans, Regulations, public notice, in writing, or otherwise as provided in these Regulations (Part II, Sections 4 (5).”
In 2010 the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project in Liberia introduced fishing rights through a system of co-management in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, on a pilot basis.
While in 2011, a national framework and a strategy document for establishment of Co-Management Associations were prepared for guidance of the Bureau of National Fisheries in its work towards promotion of the co-management system.
In 2012 a constitution and by-laws were drafted as legal instruments for operation of the Pilot Robertsport CMA, which came into effect by acclamation by the General Assembly the same year.
Madam Glassco told FrontPageAfrica that the Board of Directors for the Robertsport CMA was constituted in 2013 and an authorizing resolution passed to enter a partnership agreement with the Bureau of National Fisheries in June 2013.
She disclosed that government will be responsible for the issuance of national vessel registration numbers and fishing licenses to all canoes; prepare a fisheries co-management plan for the establishment and management of the Robertsport TURF; formulation of fisheries policies through participatory approaches involving active CMA representation.
“We will do the development and implementation of capacity building programs including training and education to the CMA membership and local stakeholders; resolution of problems and issues beyond the scope of local co-management arrangements, particularly backstopping of local monitoring and surveillance efforts and enabling the provision of law enforcement mechanisms and services; provision of enabling legislation to authorize and legitimize the right to organize and to make and enforce co-management,” she further stated.
She noted that government will also provide legal recognition and national legitimacy of CMAs; provide technical assistance to the CMA, including the application of national fisheries regulatory standards, appeal mechanism, conflict management, and conducting fisheries-related scientific research.
“We will also ensure accountability of co-management through overseeing local arrangements and dealing with abuses of local authority; coordination role to maintain a forum for the Robertsport CMA to engage and interact with other local CMAs and co-management partners throughout Liberia,” she noted.
During the visit to beaches in Montserrado County, Mrs. Metieh-Glassco promised fishermen that NAAFA will change all of the rubber nets being used by fishermen and give them modern ones.
The fishermen welcomed the idea and thanked government for initiating such method to bring unity in the fisheries industry.
The deputy chief of Seaside at Bernard Beach, Prince Powo, hoped that government will mean business for the fishery sector of Liberia.
“We hope it is not empty talks, because in Liberia today we are living on empty promises. We hope they will do all the things they are telling us here; we are here and waiting to see what is next,” he noted.
He disclosed that there are over 45 canoes currently fishing on Bernard Beach with about three men on a canoe.
Another fisherman, Frances Sayon, is worried about a loan he took from the bank to purchase a canoe should the government replace it with a motorized boat, which he would be also be required to pay on, too.
“I took loan to buy my canoe, so how will I manage when the government takes away our wooding canoes and replaces them with motorized boats? We are supposed to also pay to government on the boats, how will I be paying for my current canoe at the same time paying for the one government will give me?” he asked.
Momo Dennis of West Point Beach also welcomed government’s decision to collaborate and restrict the fishery sector. He expressed concerns about clashes between local fishermen and foreigners, who are doing ship fishing.
“They are always on our waters fishing in places that we the locals are supposed to fish. How are we going to manage since we are now about to go deep sea to fishing?” he asked.