‘Fisheries Sector helps in our country’s development’ – Dr. Soccoh Kabia
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources has told Sierra Leoneans that the fisheries sector has been of great help in determining the development of the country.
Dr. Soccoh Kabia was speaking on Wednesday July 20th during a radio discussion programme, organized by the ministry, with support from the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project, at Universal Radio. The radio and television discussions are part of a series of public education activities, supported by WARFP-SL, in line with its communications plan.
Explaining to Sierra Leoneans the mandate of his ministry, the Minister explained, that his ministry is charged with the responsibility of regulating the fisheries sector in the country, and that “the ministry is particularly important since it generates about 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and at the same time, the artisanal sector accounts for about 70% of the fish consumed by Sierra Leoneans …and the sector also helps in the area of job creation for Sierra Leoneans…”
“We should ensure laws governing the fisheries sector are adhered to so that regulations on illegal fishing, licensing among others are respected.”
He also spoke on the challenges the fisheries sector is faced with, including the illegal unregulated and unreported fishing activities going on in the waters of Sierra Leone. He however assured, that with the support of World Bank, through the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project, these are challenges that could be handled by the ministry.
Also part of the radio programme on Wednesday 20th July was the Project Coordinator for the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project, Dr. Salieu Sankoh. He explained that the project has three major components, including- ensuring good governance and sustainable management of the fisheries; reduction of illegal fishing and ensuring an increased local value addition to fish products.
The project, Dr. Sankoh also said, seeks a 50% reduction of fishing vessels that are observed fishing within the 6-mile Inshore Exclusion Zone by the end of the project life cycle and that it will support the strengthening of the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance of the West African Sub region to reduce illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. In addition, the project will ensure that industrial fishing operations are carried out within the provisions of the laws of Sierra Leone.
Dr.Sankoh also informed Sierra Leoneans that the project seeks a 10 % increase in the value of exports from the coastal demersal fisheries and from the shrimp fisheries and will “seek an improved governance indicator, which entails the legal establishment of four Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) in targeted coastal fishing communities by the end of the project; also, it seeks an increased local value added indicator-a 10 % increase in the value/volume of exports from the coastal demersal fisheries and from the shrimp fisheries.
Phone calls from the general public formed part of the programme. Ishmael Koroma from Kuntoloh in the east of Freetown commended the Minister and his Ministry officials for the good work. He also encouraged that more efforts be put in place by all stakeholders to see how the fisheries sector could help more in the country’s development agenda. Momoh Yillah from Goderich encouraged the Ministry and WARFP-SL to continue the monitoring, control and surveillance aspect .Roland Stevens from Congo market also expressed appreciation for the WARFP-SL project in Sierra Leone. The programme was moderated by this writer.
Similar programmes shall be held in both Universal radio and Radio Democracy and on SLBC TV for the next couple of weeks. The first in a series of TV public education programmes on fisheries management also commenced on the 21st July on SLBC TV.
By John Baimba Sesay, Communications Specialist, WARFP-SL
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