Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Dr. Soccoh Kabia, has described illegal fishing as one of the main challenges facing the fisheries sector in Sierra Leone.
Addressing fisher folks at Sulima in Sorogbema Chiefdom, Pujehun District and Bonthe Town at the end of his visit to outstations and fishing communities recently, he said due to rampant illegal fishing practices, coupled with other challenges such as weak surveillance, monitoring and control system, the sector has not been able to realize its full potential.
Dr. Kabia urged the fishers to renounce bad fishing methods, help in conserving their natural resources and identify defaulters.
Responding to concerns raised by the communities, the Fisheries Minister assured them that his ministry will do its utmost to address problems facing them.
While highlighting some of the adverse effects of illegal fishing and the need to empower the artisanal fishing communities, Dr. Kabia informed the fishers that studies have shown that the country is losing thirty million U. S dollars annually as a result of the unscrupulous practice.
He disclosed plans to establish marine protected areas, revive the ministry’s out stations and upgrade the status of fish mongers in the country through ‘The Women in Fisheries Programme’.
F.A.O’ representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Gabriel Rugalema, pledged his organization’s continued support to enable the sector realize its potentials.
He entreated the fishing communities in Bonthe to view the newly-constructed fish landing site as theirs and make it a centre of activities.
A representative from the African Development Bank that funded the construction of four fish landing sites in the country, Christian Tucker commended staff of the Fisheries Ministry and partners for the successful completion of the project and hoped they will be properly managed.
Acting Director of Fisheries, Alpha Bangura, recalled days when fisheries projects were thriving in Sulima and Bonthe and assured all that the ministry’s outstations will soon be revived.
The Town Chief of Sulima, Siaka Massaquoi, described it as very lucrative area and called on government and partners to help harness its natural resources.
He lamented their poor standard of living and hoped they will benefit from government’s development plans.
The Chief Administrator of the Bonthe Distict Council, Frank Matia, outlined a number development activities undertaken in the district and thanked government for identifying itself with their plight.
He spoke of the adverse effects of mining in the region and hoped reports of its environmental and social impact assessment will be considered.