The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Joseph Koroma has assured fishing communities at Makali in the Northern Province, Bo, Gbondapi and Sulima in the Southern Province of government’s unwavering commitment to restoring the fishing industry to its past glory.
The Fisheries Minister made this pledge during his maiden visit to his Ministry’s outstations and ancillary facilities in the regions. He told fish farmers at Makali, his first port of call that he was in the regions to examine facilities of fishing communities located in the regions and assess their needs with a view to providing them with necessary support.
He commended them for taking the lead in fish farming in the country and assured them of his Ministry’s desire to address their concerns. Minister Koroma spoke about a number of initiatives government and donor partners are putting in place to ensure that sanity prevails in the sector and entreated them to form fishing cooperative societies in order to attract more support and increase their revenue generation.
Welcoming the Minister and entourage earlier, the Director of Makali Small Scale Training Centre, Nominous Kargbo emphasized the importance of fisheries in socio- economic development. Mr. Kargbo also stressed the need to improve the current state of the Ministry’s fish farming sites and welfare of its workers to ensure effective service delivery.
A Councilor in the area, Rugiatu Koroma said fish farming (aquaculture) had been the main source of livelihood for residents in the region and appealed for its revival.
The Minister and entourage also visited the Ministry’s Fish Farming Experimental Centre in BO where they were informed by the Ag. Deputy Director of Fisheries, Alpha Bangura that before the war the centre was fully operational, providing training and extension services for communities with support from Government and donor agencies.
A Field Technician, Hassan Bundu informed the team that there were 300 fish ponds in the District which number has drastically reduced due to lack of support.
Responding, the Minister expressed dismay over the moribund state in which he found the center and ancillary facilities and ordered staff of his Ministry to prepare a project proposal that would urgently address the constraints highlighted by the outstation staff.
Welcoming the Minister and team to Gbondapi, the Secretary of Gbotima Fishing Society, Dominic Rogers thanked them for identifying themselves with their plight. He pointed out that since they surrendered their illegal fishing gears to the Ministry, they have not been able to replace them and called for support to enable them to resume normal operations.
The Minister also expressed disappointment at the dilapidated conditions of facilities in what was once referred to as a lucrative fishing and business centre. He disclosed plans to introduce initiatives aimed at promoting their activities including, the provision of recommended fishing gears at subsidized costs.
The last port of call was Sulima, a border town in Pujehun District where the Minister inspected fish landing sites and gears. On behalf of Government, he extended condolences to the bereaved families of victims of the recent diarrhea outbreak in the town and assured them that he will leave no stone unturned in addressing their concerns
Issues relating to provision of a functioning cold room, jetty and the exploitation of crude oil discovered in their area were discussed among others.
By A. Max Konneh