By Shem Oirere*
Liberia’s effort to empower local fishing communities to tackle illicit fishing activities and practice sustainable exploitation of marine fisheries has received a major boost after the launch of a new four-year, USD 3 million (EUR 2.4 million) Communities for Fisheries project.
The four-year project is a partnership between the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Liberia’s state-owned National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and will – among other objectives – support the ongoing fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that has impacted many West African countries, including Liberia.
“The project will run for the next four years, during which time EJF’s local and international teams will empower communities to co-manage fisheries and reduce illegal fishing, building lasting sustainability and social equity into Liberia’s fishing sector,” EJF said in a statement.
The new Communities for Fisheries project is part of the European Union-Liberia Agricultural Partnership Program, “which aims, among other things, at supporting a competitive and environmentally sustainable value chain for inland and coastal fisheries in Liberia,” EJF said.
“If local people are given the skills and equipment to collect evidence, such as taking good quality, geotagged photos of trawlers fishing illegally, they can create an effective line of defense for Liberia’s fish populations,” EJF said.
The United Kingdom-based organization hopes the information collected by the Liberian fishers will be accumulated in a central database to support any move by the government to prosecute perpetrators of IUU. Liberia reported 12,600 metric tons (MT) in marine production and an estimated inland fishery production of 2,200 MT in 2017.
NaFAA Director General Emma Metieh Glassco said she promised to ensure the project creates “effective community co-management associations to secure legal and sustainable fisheries in Liberia.”
For Liberia, the new project is a further confirmation of the government’s commitment to ending IUU nearly three years after the country was given a yellow card by the E.U. for its lack of cooperation in ending the practice in its marine waters.
Photo courtesy of the Environmental Justice Foundation