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EJF Seeks to Monitor Forest Operators

EJF Seeks to Monitor Forest Operators

As government allows forest operators/timber exporters to resume exporting logs from Sierra Leone following the lifting of the ban on timber export in October this year, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is calling on government to assign them alongside other Civil Society Organizations to fully monitor the operations of the forest operators so that they implement their commitments in the signed memorandum of understanding between the exporters and the government.  EJF Country Representative, Victor Bernard Cole in an interview with this press said they would like to play the watch-dog role and unearth their findings regarding the timber activities throughout the six months grace period that government allows these forest operators to export their logs. According to Mr. Cole, the lifting of the ban should be accompanied by rigorous and effective monitoring exercises to be undertaken side by side so that the operators will not step out of their expectation or commitments embedded in the above mentioned MOU. H enoted that the lifting of the timber ban would be misunderstood to mean that the power saws and logging activities are given the green light to go ahead rampantly. Victor maintained that “with our watch-man role, deforestation could be improved”.

Environmental Justice Foundation is engaged in the documentation of the extensive use of flags of Convenience whereby a fishing operator buys a flag from a state that lacks the ability to monitor its activities. According to Victor, the EJF has also documented increasing volumes of illegal catches that are transshipped at sea on to large refrigerated cargo vessels destined to East Asia.  However, EJF’s community surveillance programme and the subsequent investigations have led to over US$500,000 in fines and a dramatic reduction in illegal fishing activities in Sierra Leone’s inshore Exclusive Zone. In this regard, investigations are on going by the EU to determine possible sanctions for vessels identified fishing illegally by EFJ.

By Ilyasa Baa

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