By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources on Friday 3rd January inspected a patrol vessel, JMS 77, at Government Wharf in Freetown that will help in curtailing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities on Sierra Leonean waters after the signing of an agreement between the government and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
According to Capt. Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe, the vessel is of high quality and has all the necessary equipment to track poachers of the country’s fishes. He assured the owner of the vessel – Sea Shepherd – of his determination to ensure that the draft agreement document is looked at without further delay by the relevant authorities in order to pave the way for the signing ceremony.
“I want to say this patrol vessel is an important step towards the fight against IUU fishing activities in our waters,” noted minister Pat-Sowe. “On behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, let me welcome you to the shores of this country and to say I am delighted to see this vessel.”
He noted that any help towards the fight against illegal fishing is good for the country because the poachers are out there taking the nation’s fishes away and that government cannot singlehandedly catch them.
On his part, Captain of the vessel, Carlos Bueno, expressed his delight on behalf of his crew for the warm reception received from the minister and his entourage and stated that after the agreement would have been signed, they would also help in providing Sierra Leoneans with the necessary skills to carry out patrols for IUU fishing activities as well as the provision of equipment.
He explained that the vessel would be used to carry out their West African campaign which, according to him, will be the first in this part of the world.
“Our main aim after the signing of the agreement will be to stop poaching activities on the Sierra Leone waters. We will use our equipment to stop them,” he assured.