As a way of uplifting the Fisheries sector across the country, World bank have set aside four Million US dollar ($4m) for a special project which should start before the end of 2016.
Sierra Leone is one of the few countries in Africa that is blessed with conducive fishing environment which if properly handled will contribute immensely to the country’s economy and at the same time create employment facilities for the people.
According to the World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone, Parminder Brar, they started work in developing the West African Regional Fisheries Programme (WARFP) in 2007 as a way of preventing the problem of alleged rampant illegal fishing by Asiatic and European fishing vessels that took over from the previous industrial fisheries by factory vessels from Russia.
He stated that WARFP started operating with the Ministry of Fisheries in 2009 and by 2012 pair trawling was banned by a Presidential decree as trawlers were equipped with vessel monitoring and many Asiatic vessels which he alleged to have been involved in illegal fishing decided to stop trawling along the coast of Sierra Leone.
According to him the introduction of the Joint Monitoring Centre led to the reduction of trawlers from 80 to 30 between 2012 and 2014, a situation which led to the increased catch of shrimp and larger sardinella and profit for the nation increased for the 38,000 local fishermen.
The World Bank Country Manager maintained that government revenue was Le 6bn (six billion Leones) in 2008 but with the introduction of the JMC it increased to Le 30.5bn (thirty Billion five hundred million Leones), explaining that the shutdown of the JMC for the past 2 years have resulted to a very big loss by government as illegal fishing return and the vessels number increased to 80 again based on the recent statistic they received.
He added that a fund of $4m (four million US dollar) has been allocated to the Fisheries industry for transformation into a better standard and that if the project goes on successfully more funds will be invested to ensure the local fishermen benefit which will in turn increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
World Bank Country Manager disclosed that the quantum of license fees is another issue affecting the fisheries industry as Sierra Leone is charging only 1 percent of the value of the fishing vessels as license fees whereas Liberia is charging 10 percent of the value of the vessel for their license fees which is why a lot of trawlers are coming into Sierra Leone for fishing.
With the allegation levied by the World Bank Country Manager on the increase of illegal fishing within these 2 years when the JMC was shut down as a result of damage raiders, no electricity and the unavailability of internet connectivity, one might be tempted to ask how was the World Bank able to get that statistic when there is no working JMC.
Looking at the area of the amount paid for license fees is very serious. If you compare what Sierra Leone is charging to that of Liberia one will see that there is a very big difference. But in doing business the faster you sell at a cheaper rate the more customers and profit you get because the aim of any business is to maximize profit.