Freetown — The ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in collaboration with the World Bank on Tuesday launched the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program, Sierra Leone (WARFP-SL) at the Miatta conference hall in Freetown.
In his keynote address delivered on behalf of the president, minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Soccoh Kabia, expressed his gratitude to the World Bank and other co-financiers for supporting the project, which he said will contribute immensely to improving the living condition of the country’s fishing communities.
He said government totally frowns at the US$30 million loss annually through illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the country. “I will like to assure the World Bank project that my government, through the relevant institutions including the Anti-Corruption Commission, will take the lead in charging the situation,” he said.
A project of this nature is as a result of our promise and effort as a government to improve the livelihood of our people and in keeping with our agenda for change.”
In his address as minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Kabia described the fisheries sector as important in the economy of the country, and that his ministry would monitor fishing vessels – both local and international – and those engaged in illegal fishing and establish a joint maritime monitoring system.
He disclosed that an harbour for the repair of fishing vessels and also for the export of fish was currently being constructed.
“We would now be in a better position to benefit from our resources,” he said, adding that the project would also add value to the country’s resources and economy.
Project coordinator, Dr. Salieu Sankoh, said WARFP-SL was being funded by the World Bank and executed by the ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. “It is a very young programme, which is about seven months old since it was declared effective in August 2010,” he said.
According to Dr. Sankoh, the development objective of the programme was to strengthen the capacity of Sierra Leone to manage the nation’s fisheries, reduce illegal fishing and increase local value to fish products.
He said the project was being implemented with the participation of other stakeholders, including the Joint Maritime Committee (JMC), MDAs, FAO, DFID, research institutions, the law department, fishing companies, district councils, artisanal fishing groups, and the Navy among others.
World Bank country representative, Vijan Pillai, said the bank was investing in the fishing sector in Sierra Leone and the region because it has a wealth of fish resources in the sea which could make much greater contribution to economic growth and poverty reduction.
“The good news is that if overfishing is reduced the stocks will recover and there would be economic benefit for Sierra Leone,” he noted. “This could be accomplished by reducing illegal fishing and introducing a fixed number of fishing rights that are secured long term and transparent.
The World Bank country representative observed that the government of Sierra Leone has committed to reducing overfishing and increasing the economic benefit forum at fisheries and “we are pleased to be able to support the country in this effort”.
“Following the reduction of illegal fishing and the introduction of secure right, the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program will invest in the infrastructure and quality control procedures,” he said, adding that this was to encourage increased local fish processing, which he said will add local value to the fish caught in Sierra Leone.
Ms. Dienaba Beye Troure from the regional coordinating unit said at regional level the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission was coordinating the activities and work of all national WARFPs. She noted that there were five countries participating in this programme, namely Cape Verde, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.
The total budget of the programme is fifty-five million dollars (US$55m).