The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority has formally launched the University of Liberia’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The curriculum is intended for qualified fisheries professionals who are capable of learning practical skills in aquaculture, fisheries, fish processing, and marketing.
Speaking at the ceremony, NaFAA Director General Emma Metieh Glassco said despite improvements in the fisheries industry, building human capacity, particularly for private sector participation, remained a significant obstacle that called for the creation of the program.
The Liberian fisheries industry is vital to Liberia’s food security, economic growth, job creation, and government tax collection. It accounts for at least 10% of the country’s GDP. She noted that the industry has made great strides since the World Bank began assisting the development of Liberia’s fisheries under the former West African Regional Fisheries Project.
In order to assist infrastructure development in the Liberian fisheries industry and to improve livelihood opportunities for local fishermen, Madam Glassco took the chance to inform the public that the World Bank had spent more than $60 million in the area. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Science has been added to the institutional framework with the goal of giving students the chance to earn an undergraduate degree in fisheries and aquaculture science.
Serving as keynote, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, Deputy Speaker of the 54th National Legislature, pledged the support of the legislature for the initiative while urging development partners to strengthen the sector and process fish produce. He admonished the NaFAA administration for their foresight in launching the program at the university level. The vice president of the Republic of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor, cautioned the NaFAA Authority to monitor commercial fishing on rivers and creeks across the nation given that these areas have the potential to yield fish that can be exported and generate income for the nation.
VP Taylor cautioned young women in the nation to benefit from the university’s fisheries program. She noted that as part of its initial commitment to the program, the Liberian government will donate an amount of USD$50,000.
The University of Liberia’s president, Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson, welcomed the creation and subsequent implementation of the new curriculum at the institution and assured students that it will be made available to them in the first semester of the 2022–2023 academic year.
Reported by: Joseph N. Kerkula