UNMIL, Liberian Fishery Groups Discuss Threats to Fishery Sector


Monrovia – The United Nations in Liberia (UNMIL), in partnership with the Government of Liberia, and a consortium of private Liberian fishery groups, has set up mechanisms to end conflict in the fishery sector of Liberia.

The government is collaborating through the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), while the two private implementing partners are the Faimaba Fisheries Development Inc. (FFDC) and the National Fish Farmers Union of Liberia (NaFFUL). 

The cost of the project is seven hundred United States Dollars (US$700,000) and covers a four-month period: January 17-April, 2018. 

The partners held a workshop from March 29-31, 2018, at the Emanline Hall, Du-Port Road, Paynesville, outside Monrovia. 

The title of the Workshop was “Introducing New Methods/Technology of Fishing for Artisanal Fishermen In Support of UNMIL”, with a theme, “Enhancing Conflict Prevention and Peace Consolidation through Increased Food Security in the Fishery Sector”. 

The workshop brought together private fishery groups from fishing communities in Liberia’s nine fishing counties — Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Kru, Margibi, Montserrado, Maryland, Sinoe, and Rivercess. 

The Executive Director of one of the implementing partners, FFDC, explained his entity’s roles in the fishery partnership.

“FFDC has two components responsibilities in the partnership with UNMIL.

The first responsibility is to train and introduce artisanal fishermen and fish farmers to Aquaponics; the second is to construct Aquaponics facilities in select fishing communities in Montserrado County: Township of Wes Point and New Kru Town,” said Mr. Edwin Bonar, Executive Director of Faimaba Fisheries Development (FFDC), Inc., in an exclusive interview with this reporter.

Mr. Bonar, a graduate in Agriculture at the Cuttington University College, also said the word, Aquaponics, a fishery jargon, is the study of the livelihood relationship between fish and plant in the Greenhouse in the water –  “The plant grows and develops on the feces of the fish; the fish eats the plant that has grown and developed from eating its feces,” he explained the relationship in an interview with this reporter. 

Speaking on “Overview of Fishing in Liberia (Old and New)”, the Deputy Director of Technical Services of NaFAA, Mr. William Y. Boeh, said many artisanal fishermen in Liberia reject the government’s suggestion on the use of “nylon net” for all artisanal fishermen.

He said the Liberian fishery sector started becoming vibrant when the World Bank and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) intervened with financial and technical support.

UNMIL’s representative at the workshop, Mr. Kofi A. Ireland, said UNMIL observed several human-resource (technical-knowledge) challenges in Liberia’s fishery sector, and felt pushed to find a solution.

Presentation on the main matters was jointly made by Mr. Nasi Broh, Webmaster, NaFAA; and Mr. D. Wisseh Kay, Director of Research and Statistics, NaFAA.

Some of the subjects covered under the presentation included: the space allowed by national government for fishing activity, the types of fishing vessels being used and their locations (in nine counties), dangerous fish-killing method, tonnage of catch (number of fish) per county, types of fishing nets, threats to the ecosystem by fishing activities, and new methods/technology of fishing.

The presenters talked about In-shore Economic Zones (IEZ), measuring 200 nautical miles off the shoreline, as fishing area permitted by the government. They said each of these areas falls under the Nautical Mile, which measures six kilometers from the shore into the sea.

According to the presenters, Grand Bassa County leads in the number of fishing vessels with 699, followed by Montserrado County with 576, and Sinoe County at the third position.

“The Liberia spends US$30 million dollars on the importation of fish each year,” Mr. Broh revealed.

Some participants complained on collision between operators of wooden fishing vessels (pedal-controlled) and metallic vessel (motorized) over the sea.

“When the net-fishermen come and meet the hook-fishermen on the fishing spot, they pass their canoe over where their net is pitched,” Mr. Alexander Yancy, General Secretary of the United Fishermen Association in the Township of West Point, reported on one of the causes of conflict on the sea.

 Mr. Yancy suggested a clear demarcation of fishing points for wooden vessels and motorized vessels in the fishing area drawn by the Government of Liberia.

Another participant complained about the use of dynamite, a fishing-killing explosive, used by some fishermen 

“We have reported this dangerous method of killing fish to officials of the government, but they take action,” complained Mr. Nod Koijee, Margibi County’s Director of the Liberia Artisanal Fishing Association, complained.

“There were times we went into your communities to arrest the culprits based on your complaint, but you refused to point out they person you reported about,” Mr. D. Wisseh Kay replied to Mr. Koijee’s complaint.

Other participants said the refusal of revealing the culprits was due to lack of arrest by government officers who had responded to the call.

“Who want to be killed by a wickedness fisherman the government can’t control?” a female participant reacted.

Madam Ijuha Nah, Vice Chairlady of LAFA, expressed her qualm about the lack of modern equipment for artisanal fishermen in spite of their being registered with the government.

Another female participant, Ms. Theresa S. Bayon, Women Secretary of the Liberia Artisanal Fishing Association (LAFA), reported about killing of infant fish by fishermen in Maryland County.

“The local name for this is ‘killiyon’, meaning kill it young,” she said.

On the use of better fishing vessel and production of tonnage, the presenters placed Liberian fishermen under Ghanaian fishermen in a common fishing area: Liberian fishermen use wooden (pedal-controlled) vessels; Ghanaian fishermen use motorized vessels.

The presenters also stated that members of the Kru tribe dominate the Liberian set of artisanal fishermen across Liberia, and mostly do subsistence fishing activity, while the Ghanaian fishermen do commercial type.

Many of the vessels are not registered with the government, the presenters said.

The musical interlude of the workshop was about fishery sector, calling out to fishermen to follow the fishing rules and never to fight on the sea.

The song was composed Big Town, a traditional music group based in the Town of West Point.

On solutions to easing economic strain on fishermen, the government promised free supply of the new fishing nets to farmers.

The first national fishery law was established in 1956, and the Government of Liberia’s regulating arm of the fishery sector was called National Bureau of Fishery, but later changed to its current name (NaFAA)

Since its arrival in Liberia in 2003, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has restricted each of its nation-building operations on the platform of peace. 

Report by Samuel G. Dweh/freelance – [email protected]