Industrial fishing boats from China and Korea have put the fishing stock in Sierra Leone waters at risk of extinction.
In what appears to be a timely intervention to save the country’s fishery industry, the Sierra, began its implementation of the one-month ban placed on fishing activities on the country’s coastal waters and fish exports by industrial fishing companies from China and Korea effective from 1 April, 2019.
Authorities say the move to ban fishing activities for a month became necessary as the country needed to save the stock in its territorial waters. It also said that in order for the country not to have a shortage of fish and fish products during the period of the ban, the government has stopped the export of fish by major fishing companies.
The government decreed an April 1-30 halt to fishing and exports by major fishing companies “to protect our fish stock from depletion”, said a statement from the fisheries ministry.
“All industrial fishing companies should stock their fish in cold rooms… during the period of closure,” Minister of Fisheries Emma Kowa Jalloh told AFP.
The move and others like it will be highly welcomed in the continent because the foreign fishing companies are doing huge damage to the continent’s coastal waters and fishing territories.
According to a report by Greenpeace Environmental Group, ‘The West African states of Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone lost about $2.3 billion (more than 2.1 billion Euros) yearly from 2010 to 2016 due to illegal and undeclared fishing.’
Reacting to the ban, the executive director at Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Steve Trent said:
“We applaud the ban but the long answer is for legal, equitable and sustainable fishing industry management to be introduced.
“We are working towards helping Sierra Leone with surveillance boats and regulatory framework for sustainable fishing methods.”
In the same vein, the Sierra Leone National Fishermen Consortium through its national chairman, Alpha Sheku Kamara welcomed the boldness of government to take the bull by the horn and place a warning ban on fishing companies from China and Korea.
“We are happy that the government has declared fishing period closure after series of complaints,” he told AFP at the bustling Tombo fishing community outside the capital Freetown.
“We are calling on the government to effectively enforce the ban with surveillance.
“Industrial fishing boats from China and Korea are destroying our nets and also depleting the fish stock,” he said.
The AFP reports that no representatives of the large Chinese fishing companies in Sierra Leone have agreed to comment on the ban.
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