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Aljazeera exposes ‘Pirate Fishing’ in Sierra Leone

Aljazeera exposes ‘Pirate Fishing’ in Sierra Leone

Aljazeera TV has revealed disturbing allegations that the trade on illegal fishing is flourishing in Sierra Leone because of rampant local corruption at high places.

Government officials, in particular top officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, who are paid to turn a blind eye to the activities of foreign trawlers engaging on pirate fishing.

The costly resources of one of world’s poorest nations such as Sierra Leone are seemingly confronted by organizational pirate fishing conspirators including top government officials wanting to enrich themselves.

The fish are therefore shipped to countries in Europe, Asia and elsewhere to feed the seafood hungry people there.

Fish piracy is especially severe in waters of Sierra Leone, where for unavoidable reasons, fish makes whole in the lives of the rich and poor.

The trade – fish piracy – is a multimillion dollar conspiracy. Its consequences nevertheless have resulted in society losing billions of dollars.

In the footage by Aljazeera on Pirate Fishing– Juliana Ruhfus and Orlando von Einsiedel- took to the seas of Sierra Leone with an NGO, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which has been trying to raise awareness about the issue.

Two South Korean trawlers were spotted in the act of illegal fishing inside a coastal exclusion zone. But contrary to international maritime regulations, the trawlers have covered up ship-board markings making it impossible to determine their names and ports of origin.

The vessels refuse all their requests to stop and eventually make good their escape.  But then the team gets a vital clue that cracks the mystery wide open.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world – currently ranked 180th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.  After coming out of a brutal civil war that lasted 11 years, the country has struggled to rebuild its devastated infrastructure. Its waters contain some of the richest fish stocks in the world and could, if sustainably developed and managed, will one day provide the country with much-needed income.

Even as things stand, fishing currently represents 10 per cent of Sierra Leone’s GDP and is a crucial component in its food security (contributing 64 per cent of the total animal protein eaten in the country). But the pirate fishing activities of foreign trawlers are stripping these fishing grounds so quickly that unless the practice is stopped there will soon be nothing left to develop.

And most important of all, the local people will be deprived of a crucial food source – just to satisfy the appetites of seafood lovers in Europe, Asia and beyond. 

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