A two-day national workshop on safety at sea for small scale fisheries in developing countries is underway at the Conference room, of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Freetown. This workshop is facilitated under the FAO sub-regional safety at sea project.
The Assistant FAO Representative for programs, Dr Aloysius C Lahai pointed out that Sierra Leone has a long coast line with six districts along the sea. He noted that sea fishing and travel are very important activities in these coastal areas for transit populations in those communities. Dr Lahai said that even though sea fishing and travel are risky and hazardous and the consequences of sea accidents can be devastating, the Ministry has not put in place measures to assure the safety of the vulnerable, like getting them to be aware of the importance of the risk and hazards, early warning mechanisms, regulations, standards and policies to ensure the safety of people and property before, during and after sea expedition.
Dr Lahai pointed to a Regional Safety at Sea Project which he said proposes to assist governments in the region in improving safety at sea, and also focusing in particular on small scale fisheries sector.
He said that this project is also intended to reduce the number of accidents and their effects on the livelihoods in the coastal communities. He appealed to the participants to play their roles effectively in order to achieve the set project goals.
The director of Fisheries Mr ABC Jones declared the workshop open after reading the statements from the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Chernoh Jalloh.
In the statement Mr Jones accepted that the safety at sea of artisanal fishermen has never been considered at any level globally, even at national level.
He pointed out that it was for this reason that a sub-regional workshop was recently held in Banjul to sensitize all coastal states within the sub-regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) on its objectives and that it was unanimously agreed that member states hold a 2-day national workshop to highlight this and plan the way forward.
The workshop which will end today will broadly look at safety at sea and the FAO safety at sea project