MONROVIA – As the world observes the 6th anniversary of the International Day Against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing on Monday, June 5, the Liberia Media Advocacy Group for Fisheries and Ocean Governance (LiMAGFOG) says Liberian fishing communities are still being threatened by unacceptable fishing practices along the coast of Liberia, urging the government to take immediate actions to curtail the problem.
Given birth to on 5 December 2017 through a United Nations General Assembly resolution, the International Day for the Fight against IUU Fishing is annually observed to primarily promote awareness of the threats posed by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities to the sustainability of fisheries resources.
The local media advocacy group has for the last few days been holding media awareness against IUU fishing in a few fishing communities, cautioning local fisherfolk to report bad fishing practices.
Speaking to LiMAGFOG reporters in the densely populated fishing community of West Point, Emmanuel Joe, local fishers are going out of business due to illegal fishing activities carried out by industrial fishing vessels. According to Nagbe, their nets are regularly being destroyed by foreign or industrial fishing vessels while intruding in fishing zones exclusively meant for local fishers.
“We’re catching hard times in the hands of those big fishing vessels. They normally leave their areas and come to the place we throw our nets and destroy them. Sometimes our canoes are destroyed. You see some of the canoes here were destroyed by those people. They can’t go fishing anymore”.
He said the situation has made local fisherfolk challenged in paying their fisheries license fees to government.
“Sometimes they say we can’t pay our license fees. It’s not deliberate. How do you get money to pay your fees when your canoe is damaged by those big fishing vessels on the sea?”.
Another fisherman Harrison Wlehwleh said even though the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (the regulator of the fisheries sector of Liberia) has taken measures to curtail this bad fishing, Wlehwleh holds the view that the action of those industrial fishing vessels is deliberate.
“The government through NaFAA is doing well, but some of those big vessels do these things deliberately. I can tell you they can mean what they do to us. They can come down to us and clear our fishing nets. This is really suffering us here”.
During a tour of Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe and River Cess last month by the head of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Mrs. Emma Metieh Glassco was informed at every townhall meeting that illegal and or migrant fishing was causing hardship for them. The fishermen requested that the government put this practice to an end.
In 2020, the Environmental Justice Foundation released a report that six Chinese supertrawlers had arrived in Liberia, capable of taking over 12,000 tonnes of fish a year – nearly twice the nation’s sustainable catch.
“This reportedly sparked outrage among canoe fishers, who fear for their jobs and food security. Liberia is now the third West African country to witness a sudden increase in Chinese industrial trawlers in the last six months – a deeply worrying trend when many of these countries rely on the food and livelihoods provided by healthy fisheries.
The Liberia Artisanal Fishermen’s Association was joined by local community fisheries associations in calling on the government to consider the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities and reject the request for fishing licenses,” the EJF report stated.