The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Mrs. Emma Kowa Jalloh has called for more actions to protect the ocean which she described as,` the lungs of our planet’ that provides most of the oxygen that human being breathe.
This clarion call was made on the 8th of June to create awareness on the need for the protection of the ocean on World Ocean Day.
“The world’s oceans drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. The management of this essential resource is key for a sustainable future”, she emphasized.
The learned Minister said that this occasion is held in order to create awareness to the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean such as the pollution by plastics, mining and heavy metals deposits into the sea and sewages, cutting of mangrove trees, all of which are contributing factors to the negative use of the Ocean.
Revealing the Ministry’s strategy to tackle this menace, the Minister said that short term, middle and long term plans have been instituted for the sustainable management and development of the Fisheries sector, especially in addressing key challenges, one of which among the plans is, the robust surveillance of the waters, especially areas she recently visited in Sulima by the
border with Liberia and Gbondapi in the Pujehun district, so that the presence of relevant government authorities could be felt in places where illegal fishing is on the increase.
She craved the indulgence and support of the Ministry of Finance for the establishment of staff quarters, small patrol vessels with the necessary technical gadgets for its operations to minimize the illegal fishing in those areas.
She highlighted the need to improve on the Aquaculture sector which has long been depleted as that will reduce the pressure on the Marine resources.
“We have therefore rehabilitated our stations in Bo and Makali to make sure that fish will be available in the North and South of the country and reduce the fishing pressure in the Marine sector.
The Minister said that plans are under way to have a closed season programmed for the management of the resources after a compilation of a Scientific Observer Data Research which is funded by World Bank. Prior to the start of this exercise, a moratorium would be put on fishing activities in these areas for the next one month or two so that the stocks will improve again.
“We have four Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Yawri Bay that cover the Tombo and
Shenge axis, the Shebro River, the Sierra Leone River and the Scarcies rivers. My Ministry
will continue to work with the Community Management Associations(CMAs) and the
Artisanal Fishermen with the view to strengthening stakeholder participation in the decision making process for the sustainable management and development of the fisheries sector”, she said.
She reechoed her Ministry’s commitment to transparency and accountability as the public will be duly informed from time to time of the list of vessels licensed to fish, the revenue collected and any other illegal fishing activities.
She expressed her willingness to work with colleague Ministers and all other stakeholders in
other Ministries; like the Ministry of Transport, Tourism, Local Government, and Lands etc, to
make sure they reduce the illegal activities in protected areas.
The Minister said that the Government of Sierra Leone in line with the Agenda for the New Direction is committed to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 which is Life below Water. She said that the oceans which absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by human beings serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein, and provide direct or indirect jobs for over 200 million people.
“As much as 40 per cent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities including pollution, depleted fisheries, and loss of coastal habitats. The fisheries sub-sector continues to play a significant role in the national economy and food
security of our country, and thus deserves a serious attention in the economic growth of Sierra Leone. It contributes about 10% GDP and it is the most important economic activity along the coastline of Sierra Leone. Fish is the largest source of animal protein for majority of Sierra Leoneans, supplying about 80% of total animal protein consumption. Over 500,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in the fisheries sector in Sierra Leone. The Minister expressed her concern over the Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) Fishing activities that have been posing major challenges in Sierra Leone’s fisheries sector. This practice, according to her, has deprived the country of much needed revenue for developmental activities.
Meanwhile, the Minister has taken one bold step of revoking the Licenses of four fishing Vessels for presenting fraudulent documentation for Licensing and also using Flags that were in dispute.
“They will be paying the administrative fines for the crime committed and the catch on board will be confiscated to the state. My Ministry has also put a moratorium on the Licensing of new vessels into the Fisheries sector for now”, she concluded amidst loud applause.