The Liberia Maritime Authority has been granted full and complete supervisory, oversight and fiscal authority of the Bureau of National Fisheries and the country’s fishery resources, pending the enactment of a National Fisheries Act.
This was contained in Executive Order No. 84 issued by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pertaining to the Management of Liberia’s fishery resources.
According to an Executive Mansion release, this authority shall include the promulgation of regulations, guidelines, fees and the granting of licenses and authorizations for the sustainable utilization and management of Liberia’s fisheries resources.
The release said to ensure that the objective of the Executive Order is fully implemented, all authorities, including supervisory and fiscal responsibilities over the Fisheries Sector, including of the Bureau of National Fisheries, shall now come under the full and complete control of the Liberia Maritime Authority.
The Order states that the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) as established by the Fisheries Regulations of 2010 is hereby reduced from six nautical miles to three nautical miles.
This is to ensure that industrial and semi-industrial fishing can restart and again become viable, the Order says.
It adds that fishing vessels below 500 gross tons shall be exempt from all APM Terminal and other Port charges;
That the cumulative stock of fishery resources to be harvested shall not exceed
100,000 metric tons per annum, while the Bureau of National Fisheries, under the supervision of the Liberia Maritime Authority, will issue and publish revised guidelines and fiscal regime for obtaining Fishery License.
According to the release, Executive Order No. 84 adds that “The fishery resources of the Republic of Liberia have been underutilized for over a decade and the Government of Liberia (Government) intends to encourage investment in this sector to ensure the sustainable development and utilization of this natural resource.”
“Whereas, the Government in furtherance of its intentions to begin to sustainably utilize its fishery resources has recognized that the Bureau of National Fisheries, a unit under the Ministry of Agriculture needs to be granted an autonomous status to enable it meet up with the demands and trends of the fishing industry, and reduce the Government’s bureaucracy around the process of obtaining fishing license,” the Order stresses.
It noted that the Government has initiated the process to pass legislation to transform the Bureau of National Fisheries to an autonomous agency charged with the responsibility of managing and developing Liberia’s fishery resources, which would eventually attract investment and expand Liberia’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
But the Government being cognizant of the lengthy process involved with passing said legislation realizes the need to institute an interim measure to ensure that Liberia begins the process of reforming its fishery sector.
“That in the exercise of the Executive Power vested in the President by the Constitution, the President may issue executive orders in the public interests, either to meet exigencies or address particular situations which cannot await lengthy legislative processes,” the release said.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she was issuing the interim measure until such time the National Fisheries Act is enacted into law establishing an autonomous fisheries agency.