In an effort to fight Illegal Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities in Liberia, Conservation International (CI) has donated several items to the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
The items are intended to fight the IUU menace as well as address environmental issues affecting coastal communities in the country.
The CI donation included laptops, waterproof cameras, tablet computers, power banks, rain boots, and rain gears, among others, in the fight to minimize and, subsequently, eradicate IUU fishing in Liberia.
Speaking at the donation ceremony held at the administrative headquarters of NaFAA on Bushrod Island, the Country Representative of CI, Dr. Peter G. Mulbah, stated that the agreement that gave birth to the donation started four years ago at the Blue Ocean Conference held in Liberia.
“We are here today because of an initiative that started four years ago through the Blue Ocean Conference. Liberia happens to be the first country in Africa to organize the Blue Ocean Program, which brought together over 250 participants,” the CI Country Director noted.
Mulbah disclosed that the donation in the tone of US$30,716.50, is an initial component of what was signed in the grant agreement between the two entities.
Mulbah maintained that his institution is providing logistical support to NaFAA field staff to enhance their capacity to monitor fishing activities in Liberia, citing: “If NaFAA succeeds, the BOP succeeds, and if the BOP succeeds, NaFAA succeeds.”
Also, Mulbah lauded the partners and donors of the Blue Ocean Program, noting that the Embassy of Sweden, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) as primary partners.
“It is my honor on this bright Thursday morning, the 4th of August, to present to you these materials as part of our agreement in fulfillment when we were signing the income grant with you,” the CI top official stated.
He recalled that during the Blue Ocean Conference, there were a mix of stakeholders, technicians and experts at the conference in Liberia from the entire Africa, including the offices of the entity in Asia and the Americas.
Mulbah said, at the end of the conference, there was a resolution drafted and the outcome of that resolution led to the development of a program named: Liberia Blue Ocean Program, which is the first of its kind.
The CI official disclosed that the program is being supported through the Embassy of Sweden and CIDA.
Mulbah said CI has worked to spotlight and secure the critical benefit that nature provides to humanity, which combines the framework with innovation, science, policy and finance.
“We have helped to protect over six million square kilometers, which is around 2.3 million square miles of land and sea across 70 countries. Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers society to responsibly and sustainably care for nature and our global biodiversity for the wellbeing of humanity,” Mulbah said.
“We imagine a healthy and prosperous world in which society is forever committed to caring for the value of nature and the long term benefit for people in all light,” Mulbah emphasized.
Meanwhile, the CI boss has said the Blue Ocean Program built up from the successful hosting of the conference as an outcome which was hosted by his entity in partnership with EPA, supported by CIDA through the Swedish Embassy in Liberia.
The Blue Ocean Program is implemented in a coalition with other agencies which include, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Fisheries Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Maritime Authority, Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection along with local communities.
Mulbah revealed that his institution’s partnership with NaFAA is geared towards implementing sustainable fishing and also the Blue economy work status which includes the establishment of Community fishery improvement project in the Southeast of Liberia.
He further said that the partnership also seeks to achieve support to fisherwomen also referred to as fishmongers as a means of developing their skills, businesses and in order to help them effectively manage their resources.
“This involves the provision of legal fishing gears, training, training materials and the management of group dynamics,” Mulbah added.
The CI Liberia chapter boss asserted that his entity is also providing support to NaFAA in the area of improving data collection processes and enhancing monitoring control and surveillance for artisanal fishery, which is outlined in their income grant agreement.
In addition, he said, his institution’s support is aimed at combating illegal, unregulated, and unreported artisanal fishing in Liberia.
He said their support is in the form of also enhancing NaFAA engagement and management at the local level by supporting and building the capacities of National Fisheries staff in the Southeast and also supporting the revamping of cooperatives.
“We want to say in this public manner that we enjoy the working relationship and partnership with NaFAA and all we can pray for is to continue to improve it as we fight to combat illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing and provide sustainable livelihood to local communities,” Mulbah stated.
For his part, the Deputy Director General for administration at NaFAA, Mr. Augustine Manoballah, serving as proxy of the Director General, extolled the team from CI and all of the participants who contributed in making the program a success.
He conveyed commendations on behalf of NaFAA and the Government of Liberia to CI and to all of the partners supporting the project in fulfillment of the agreement that was signed in fighting IUU and addressing environmental problems in coastal counties, specifically the Southeast.
Manoballah said in order to sustainably manage the fishing resources of the country, the fight against Illegal Unregulated Unreported fishing is core.
“And so at this point in time that we have a support from one of our major partners, to ensure that we enhance our capacity, I will like to thank the Country Director for recognizing the fact that we already have in place structure geared towards combating IUU,” the NaFAA DDG said.
He pointed out that the support is geared towards enhancing what NaFAA already has to prepare its employees in combating IUU against the exploitation of the country’s resources.
He assured the CI family that the items donated will be adequately used for the intended purpose and that they will live in line with the agreement that was signed between the two entities.
“We will use the items effectively so that it will encourage the partners and donors to see the need to increase funding in this direction,” Manoballah preserved.