Liberia: Pres. Weah to Launch Distribution of 65,000 Life Jackets to Curb Rising Deaths among Fisherfolks
MONROVIA – President George Weah through the office of the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) will on January 20, launch the distribution of 65,000 life jackets to fishermen around the country.
The distribution of the life jackets to members of the fishing community is a direct gift from President Weah to the fishing population of Liberia aimed at minimizing the risk associated with fishing on the high sea.
The distribution will begin with the launch of a roadshow awareness exercise which will run from January 16-18, 2023 while the main distribution event will be launched on January 20, 2023 in New Kru Town, Bushrod Island.
The donation, according to NaFAA Boss Emma Metieh Glassco, is geared towards enhancing safety at sea thereby preventing casualties which mostly occur due to the lack of safety equipment or gear such as life jackets.
According to Madam Glassco, casualties at sea which are mainly due to the capsize of canoes have claimed the lives of about 209 people between 2019 to 2022, noting that the tragedy is now becoming an epidemic where fishing folks are vulnerable to harsh climatic conditions.
At the same time, The Liberia Media Advocacy Group for Fisheries and Ocean Governance (LiMAGFOG) extolled the step taken by authorities of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) to resolve a matter involving artisanal fishermen in Liberia.
Recently, fishermen representing the Liberia Artisanal Fishermen Association (LAFA) made a radio appearance on SKY FM, expressing indignation at fishing license fees levied by the Liberian government. The fishermen said the fees charged for fishing in Liberian waters do not commensurate with the high cost of living while calling for a reduction in the fees.
Days following the radio appearance, the fisheries management body invited the agitating fishermen for a dialogue. LiMAGFOG is informed that the dialogue produced what is considered the best alternative for the fisheries industry.
NaFAA had deployed its staff across fishing communities in the country to enforce the collection of fisheries license fees for 2023. NaFAA reached a decision to relax the enforcement exercise for a month, while conversations are held with the legislature for possible adjustment of the fees.
NaFAA’s enforcement and compliance exercise is often backed by armed personnel representing the Armed Forces of Liberia’s Coast Guard Service for the purpose of dealing with security concerns.
The fishermen are apprehensive of armed men being used in the collection of fees. At the meeting, the management of the fisheries authority reached a decision to avoid the Coast Guard during future revenue collection operations. According to NaFAA, unarmed Liberia National Police officers will replace the Coast Guard.
LiMAGFOG believes such move by the regulator of the fisheries sector to resolve a potential conflict deserves commendation.
LiMAGFOG calls on both parties to consolidate the gains recorded in the sector by collaborating for the common good of the industry.