Sierra Leone: One-month fishing ban fails to address illegal fishing activity & replenish stocks for local population

Author: Kate Hairsine & Claudia Anthony, Deutsche Welle, Published on: 2 May 2019

"Sierra Leone's one month fishing ban achieves little", 29 April 2019.

Up and down Sierra Leone's...coastline, entire villages depend on the sea. Some 8,000 small boats manned by local fishermen go out every day to cast their nets...more than four fifths of the population depend on fish as a source of animal protein. But the country's traditional fishing communities have long complained that their catch is drastically shrinking due to overfishing by foreign trawlers...Sierra Leone's government temporarily banned fishing by industrial boats for a month from 1 April...Traditional fishermen were still allowed to ply their trade during the moratorium...

While Ibrahim Michael Kabia from Sierra Leone's Consumer Protection Agency welcomed the ban, he says it wasn't long enough. To have any chance of helping fish stocks rebound, it needed to last at least 90 days...But for some of those buying fish at a Freetown market, the ban was a waste of time...the ban had caused a price hike...

The big issues that the ban fails to address, however, is illegal and unregulated fishing...Chinese vessels, in particular, have been accused of using illegal methods in Sierra Leone waters...In Sierra Leone, all foreign trawlers must carry a fisheries officer on board who is supposed to report illegal activity. Poorly paid, however, they are unlikely to stop vessels breaking the law...

This unregulated fishing is also losing West African countries – who are among the least developed in the world – significant amounts of money. It's thought Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea miss out on revenue of $2.3 billion (€2.06 billion) a year due to illegal trawling...

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