Monrovia – The National Fisheries & Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has levied a fine on an industrial Chinese fishing vessel named Bonheur Vessel 1462 for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing activities on Liberian waters.
Illegal fishing activities have over the years caused the government a huge revenue loss in the fishery sector.
According to a NaFAA press release, the Chinese fishing vessel was arrested by the Armed Forces of Liberia, through the Liberia National Coast Guard in collaboration with NaFAA. This brings to two Chinese vessels being arrested and fined for illegal fishing activities on Liberian waters.
It can be recalled, earlier this year NaFAA arrested and fined another Chinese fishing vessel US$50,000 for illegally offloading fish products without the knowledge of the Liberian Fisheries Authorities.
In another development, NaFAA authorities have temporarily lifted its ban on the importation of fish through non-licensed fishing vessels in order to support food security in Liberia.
However, any non-licensed fishing vessel engaged in the importation of fish must have an Automated Identification System (AIS) or a Monitoring Transitioned Unit (MTU) installed on it for effective monitoring and control by the Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) whilst in route to Liberia.
Meanwhile, as part of the economic incentives of the CDC pro-poor government to encourage more investment in the fisheries sector, the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), working closely with NaFAA, has reduced the fees of certificate for non-flagged vessels operating in Liberian waters.
The fees have been reduced from US$49,000 to a flat rate of US$10,000 for Industrial Tuna and Small Pelagic Fishing vessels only.
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.
More than 21,000 children are still enslaved in the fishing industry on the Volta Lake despite series of interventions aimed at ending the menace, according to the Global Slavery Index.
Fifty-seven per cent of the children, most of whom below age 10 were likely to have been trafficked, since they have no known relatives in the area.
Ms Anita Budu, Director of Casework at the International Justice Mission (IJM), an International Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) involved in promoting justice for the vulnerable disclosed this in a conversation with selected journalists in Accra yesterday on the state of child trafficking on the Volta Lake.
“As per the Global Slavery Index, there are actually 21,000 children working in and around the Volta Lake. That is either those used directly in fishing activities on the lake or surrounding areas or girls who are used for selling of fish in the area,” she said.
She said there was the need to distinguish between cases of child labour and child trafficking, stressing that “When IJM first came to Ghana, we did a survey on the prevalence of the issue and our survey focused exactly on half of the Volta Lake area. We interviewed about 771 children and 57 per cent of the children were likely victims of child trafficking.”
According to her there were cases where some of the children worked with their family members on the lake even though it was still under hazardous conditions, dangerous and not in the best interest of the child.
Ms Budu noted that even though several work had been undertaken in the area to stop the practice, it was still prevalent and this was largely due to the fact that the laws on child trafficking had not been enforced.
She said as an agency, the IJM could not address the issue alone and so it was in partnership with government and other agencies to find out measures to bring the practice to an end.
“On the ground we have four main issues we look at to address this issue long term and the first pillar is rescue, which is identifying and taking the children out of the abuse they find themselves in,” she said.
After rescuing them, the next option was to take them to a safe place and also ensure that the perpetrators were brought to justice, stressing that “Already arrests are being made and charges are being brought against these people.”
Ms Budu said one way of ending the menace was through the enforcement of the laws, adding that “there are laws on our statutes that criminalise child trafficking and abuse but because we have failed to enforce it to the letter, the perpetrators are emboldened to continue with it.”
On his part, the country director for IJM, Mr Will Lathrop said issues of child trafficking were more of an economic crime than poverty related.
According to him boat owners’ preferred to go in for trafficked children in their trade because they were a source of cheap labour.
He said rather than employing adults and paying them for their services or wage basis, these boat owners preferred to use the children whose cost they paid only once.
Mr Lathrop said the approach to ending the menace must move from the position of dialogue with perpetrators to the point of prosecution, stressing that “Once the state begins to prosecute these perpetrators, others would be afraid to continue because they know they would be punished when arrested.
He said the country risked losing its labour force in the future if the situation was not brought to an end, adding that “if we continue to employ these under age children in the practice while adults looking for jobs are ignored, what we do is to worsen the situation of unemployment in the country and also destroy the future labour force of the country.”
The Global Slavery Index is a global study of modern slavery conditions by country published by the Walk Free Foundation founded by Andrew Forrest.
It has so far released four publications made up of 2013, 2014, 2016 and the 2018 editions and focused on slavery practices in 164 countries across the world.
Lokpobiri decried that “the whole lot of illegal activities going on, where people just come to our waters and after fishing they tranship to another ship…”
Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed displeasure over illegal fishing activities carried out, mostly by foreigners, especially without accountability.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who said this recently, in Abuja, disclosed that the ministry has made it a precondition for any fishing vessel owner wishing to license or renew his vessel license to have all the equipment in place.
Lokpobiri decried that “the whole lot of illegal activities going on, where people just come to our waters and after fishing they tranship to another ship, and there is no record of what they have taken from our artisanal waters, is one major challenge we need to take on in Nigeria and the member states of the sub region.
“What we are trying to do is that for any license, any fishing license to be issued or renewed, one of the new policies we have developed with the Nigerian Navy is that you must install the VMS, where from the Naval headquarters and from the regional offices in Calabar, they can see all our ships in the Nigerian waters.”
He further said the government has “also discovered that most of the cases of piracy were faked. Your own crew in your own vessel will create a scenario where they will say oh they have been attacked and all the fish have been taken over. These are some of the issues we are having transhipment in the sea. You invest in a vessel, you send them, you pay them, they go and after fishing, they sell them off in the sea and they claimed that they were robbed.”
Ghana has begun a process to de-limit the maritime boundary between the country and Togo, a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Mohammad Habibu Tijani has said.
Additionally, government is strengthening the legal regime on piracy and maritime crime by moving the Ghana Maritime Offences Bill forward to enhance the maritime criminal justice system to be able to effectively prosecute prospective offenders within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction.
The Deputy Minister was outlining challenges and commitments in addressing Ghana’s maritime security threats at the just-ended 5th “Our Ocean” Conference in the Indonesian city of Bali.
This year’s conferenceis, the first to be held in Asia gathered over 600 commitments which is valued at about US$ 18 billion and created 12.4 square kilometers of marine protected area.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Mohammad Habibu Tijani led a delegation to represent the Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs at the conference.
The Hon. Deputy Minister was joined by Ghana’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Akua Ahenkra and other officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. At the conference, the Hon. Deputy Minister presented a Statement on “Ghana’s Initiatives in addressing maritime security issues” on a panel.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines, Indonesia-Africa Maritime Dialogue was also held.
It was attended by Senior Officials from Indonesian institutions and officials from African countries including Ghana. Other representatives from Fish-I African, Global Fishing Watch, Interpol, and UNODC were also present.