Monrovia, Liberia – The commissioning of the research vessel for the fish-stock assessment in Liberian waters has been started by the governments of Liberia and Morocco through their respective ministries of agriculture, forestry, water, and development, as well as the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority of Liberia.
The Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project was launched in 2020 with funding from the World Bank to carry out an exhaustive and impartial stock assessment. Acquiring up-to-date and precise scientific data about equities was the goal in order to help the nation make decisions.
Speaking at the Commissioning Ceremony of the Research Vessel for the Fish-Stock Assessment in Liberian Waters, Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA), Madam Emma Metieh Glassco, revealed that the fisheries sector in Liberia has performed poorly over the years due to a lack of scientific data, which is crucial for informing management decisions and luring potential investment, particularly from the private sector.
According to Madam Glassco, the initiative’s endeavor comes at opportune moment as Liberia aspires to industrialize its fishing sector in order to offer socioeconomic growth to its populace, akin to other sister countries.
“Geographically blessed with a 579-kilometer coastline, Liberia is a coastal state that has an impressive history of exporting shellfish, including shrimp, lobsters, and other high-value species, back in the 1970s, before the 14 years civil war. We were shipping these valuable species to markets across the world, including those in Japan, America, and Asia.”
She bemoaned the fact that, in contrast to other fishing nations, the country’s fishing industry has been defined since the post-war era by artisanal and subsistence fishing operations.
According to NAAFAA Boss, the Fish Stock Assessment exercise aims to gather data on the distribution and abundance of different fish species in Liberia’s waters, taking into account their ecological and commercial significance.
“As we work to gather the necessary data about our marine resources and guarantee the sustainable management of these priceless resources, today represents a significant milestone accomplishment. Our goal is to ensure that every detail matters, such as the fish stock’s taxonomy, habitat, biomass, breeding grounds, and distribution along our coast. We see this process as an opportunity to connect the economic viability of the whole chain to human development, improve livelihood opportunities, and maintain healthy fish stocks and catches that will support economic development and food security.”
“Let me stress that data is an essential tool for managing fisheries. It matters when choosing which fisheries management strategy to use. We have managed our fish resources using a cautious approach over the years in order to prevent overfishing. This gap has made it difficult for us to engage in full-scale industrial fishing. According to study reports, as we begin this exercise today, I think we are one step away from entering a full-scale commercialization.”
“We expect that the study will also look at the pelagic (living in mid-water) and demersal (living on the bottom) fish resources of Liberia’s continental shelf, with a focus on shrimps, to find out where and how many fish resources are in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
The NAAFAA Boss, however, conveyed the nation’s gratitude to the Moroccan government for its kindness toward Liberia, adding that the country hopes the independent stock assessment will galvanize efforts for sustainable fisheries management, marine resource conservation, and the establishment of the marine resources’ commercial viability.
Reported by: Jenneh Borbor