In her relentless efforts to ensure that Sierra Leone competes in the international market, the Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries Haja Afsatu Kabba and other senior officials of her ministry have inspected major artisanal fishing sites in the Western Area to ensure that fishermen are using the correct fishing nets.
The First point of her visit on Friday was the Kissy Dock Yard there she inspected the imported nylon multifilament fishing nets and spoke with officials of the Artisanal Fisheries Development Project (AFDEP) to know if fishermen are complying with regards the purchasing of the good fishing nets.
AFDEP Project Manager, Alpha Bangura said that they have sold Le 36 million of the fishing nets imported by the Ministry.
He explained that, fishermen in the Southern part of the country are complying, but those in the North and West are not.
The Project Manager also stated that they have over 18 different types of nets with the least one costing Le 250,000 and the highest costing Le 1,425,000 million.
Bangura further explained that these fishing nets catch different types of fish, but does not catch smaller fishes.
In response, Haja Afsatu Kabba expressed disappointment in the manner in which the project Manager has been selling the nets.
She stated that she wants the sales to be in a transparent way, so that every fisherman will have access to the nets on a first come first serve basis, irrespective of their political affiliations, religions and tribes.
The Minister added that, using the proper fishing nets will enable Sierra Leone to compete with other countries in the international market in terms of fish trading.
The country, she said has the best fishes and if good fishing methods are used Sierra Leone will benefits immensely from the fishing sector.
The Director of Fisheries at the Ministry, Alhaji Mohamed Sheriff called on fishermen to stop using the bad fishing.
He explained that there is a possibility that if fishermen continue to use the bad nets it would affect the availability of fish to eat and even our generations will also suffer from it.
Alhaji Mohamed Sheriff stated that, they want every Sierra Leonean to have access to fish which has the highest protein.
The Councilor of the ward, Alusine Conteh supported the Ministry’s drive to get rid of all the bad nets used by fishermen.
Salmana Kargbo, a Harbor Master from Portee, admitted that they were using bad nets to fish.
He appealed to the Minister for a loan payment for the nets, as things are hard and rough for them.
Kargbo pointed out that they are ready to use the good nets prescribed by the ministry and as such put away their bad fishing nets.
However, the Director of Fisheries was quick to intervene and reminded fishermen present of the Le2 billion debts they owe the government through loans given to them.
He emphasized that this time round the nets will be sold on a cash basis.
At the Tombo fishing sites, about 250 bad fishing nets which were reaped off from fishermen where showed to the Minister and her team.
The minister admonished them to go according to the rules and regulations sets by her ministry.
She said that her intention was not to take their livelihoods away from them, but for them to work in line with President Koroma’s vision to make Sierra Leone a better place .
The Minister informed them about her recent conference which she attended in Brussels where she appealed for Sierra Leone to starts
exporting fish to the European market.
She explained that Sierra Leone was banned from exporting fish due to the use of bad fishing methods by fishermen.
Haja Afsatu Kabba stressed that she is committed to ensure that Sierra Leone meets all these standards and starts exporting fish to the international market again.
She observed that after all bad nets would have been retrieved from them they will be burnt just like the cocaine was done in the view of the public.
Amadu Seaport Kamara, the National Master fisherman in the country applauded the Minister for the initiative and promised that they will adhere to the rules and regulations.
The Field Supervisor, Tombo Fisheries Station, assured the minister and her team that he would ensure that fishermen in Tombo do not go to sea with these bad nets.
After several assurances made by the fishermen, the ban that was levied on them for days will be lifted today.
Mabinty Kamara, a fish seller in Tombo who was skirmishing in the crowds to see the Minister for the first time, explained that she has heard about the industrious work of Minister the time she was Minister of Energy and Power but never had to opportunity to see her.
She expressed hope that as long as Haja Afsatu is the Minister of Fisheries there is hope for women in the fishing sector.
Similar visits will be extended to other major fishing sites in the country. By Abibatu Kamara