The SLPP government has said in its manifesto that fishing and livestock production will be an important sector to Sierra Leone’s economy.
The fisheries sector provides for the livelihoods of many thousands of poor people, and has the potential to contribute to pro-poor growth and welfare enhancement through appropriate exploitation and utilisation of fish stocks. At the moment, the existing small-scale fisheries are underdeveloped, and represent a source for wealth generation with better organization and management.
The fisheries sector was a major foreign exchange earner before the war. Since most of infrastructures were destroyed, government intends to expand industrial fisheries. A recent fisheries sector study estimates annual revenue of about US$60 million from licenses and royalties alone, if hard-earned peace is sustained.
The private sector will be encouraged through favourable policy environment and access to business credit to invest in infrastructure, including processing plants and fishing harbours to increase local value.
In addition, during the next five years, the SLPP government will promote graduation of the sub-sector from artisanal to small-scale industrial fisheries; primarily by increasing access to formal credit.
The development of a modern industrial fish harbour is a priority for the SLPP government. This harbour will not only ensure that value is added to most of the catch from our exclusive economic zone, it will serve other neighbouring countries that lack such facilities, while acting as a source of employment for youths coming out of polytechnics.
The SLPP government, recognizing the importance of international standards, will promote partnership agreements that: respect sustainable fishing levels; account for environmental costs; protect local fishermen; increase access to credit; include compliance with flag state laws; are based on best practice fisheries management; include cooperation on research and monitoring; ensure adequate monitoring and enforcement capacity; ensure fairer sharing of economic benefits between producer and extractor nations; ensure adequate information on trade matters is available to all stakeholders for better informed decision making processes.
Livestock have always played an important role in the Sierra Leonean household economy where 70 percent of rural families keep animals as a store of wealth. Before the civil war, the contribution of the sub-sector to the national economy was estimated to be about 2.7 percent of GDP. The effects of the war on the livestock population have probably been the most devastating as compared to any other sub-sector of the agricultural economy. What was not slaughtered was led out of the country into Guinea. The SLPP embarked on restocking of chickens and small ruminants, through the assistance of its donor partners. This process is contributing to significant improvement in rural livelihoods.
There has therefore been a steady increase in household stock numbers both in the rural and urban/peri-urban areas, since the herders are returning with their cattle from neighbouring countries.
The SLPP Government when re-elected will reinforce institutional capacity to provide support services to the livestock industry. The quality of the Veterinary Department’s capability to monitor, diagnose, vaccinate, treat and report on diseases will now be given a high priority. Private-sector service providers for the Livestock sub-sector will be given the right incentives to participate in the sector.