The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, together with its key stakeholders, including the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee (STEC), the Sierra Leone Industrial Fishing Companies Association and the Sierra Leone Artisanal Consortium, have all agreed to implement a Closed Season as one of the measures to protect the fish stock from depletion. Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Honourable Emma Kowa Jalloh, said that the Closed Season on industrial fishing will take effect from 1st-30th April, 2019, adding that the period will not affect the daily fishing activities of artisanal fishermen.
“The ban will only affect the export of fish from both industrial and fish processing plants by land, sea and air. The Artisanal Fishermen Consortium should ensure that all fish caught by artisanal fishermen is sold to the market during this period” the Minister affirmed.
The Minister gave the assurance that with this action, industrial fishing companies would be asked to stock their cold rooms with different fish species and the number of fish stocked by each company will be calculated based on the number of fishing vessels operated by these companies. This she said, is to ensure that there is no shortage of fish in the local market while the ban is on.
“The Ministry will work closely with its key stakeholders to intensify monitoring and surveillance of our waters to ensure compliance,” she said.
The Minister also confirmed that over Nine Billion Leones (Le 9.5000,0000,0000) has been generated in the past year through fiscal discipline and good motoring measures, adding that all boats and vessels using the sea, land and air have been registered in line with the law of the land.
“We are very proactive in our undertakings and we are working with our stakeholders at all times. We believe in team work even though there are trials” she stated.
Meanwhile, the Chairlady of Kroo Bay Market Woman’s Association (KMWA), Madam Rugiatu Conteh has told this medium that the closed season of fishing export will affect them indirectly because some of their colleagues highly depend on fish exports and suggested that the minister should embark on an effective awareness raising and sensitisation programmes at all levels to leverage the understanding.
Chairman of Calaba Town Market Sales Association (CMSA) Mr. Alpha Bah said that the policy of the Ministry is good for the development of the nation but the process is untimely due to the problems with food security in the country at the moment.
“The government should make provision for local fishermen. We need capacity building and support. We believe in a good system but the government should also protect us” he appealed