February 24, 2016 By Ibrahim Jaffa Condeh
Head of the Environmental Justice Foundation, a civil society organisation that operates in Bonthe Island, has told Concord Times that illegal fishing activity was rampant on the island, blaming foreign fishing vessels.
Amara Kallon claimed foreign vessels enter the country’s territorial waters around Bonthe island and wantonly fish in restricted areas, adding that their illegal activities was gravely affecting local fishermen.
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He also blamed government’s failure to effectively monitor fishing activity on our territorial waters as one of the reasons for the increased illegal fishing by foreign vessels.
The West Regional Fisheries project, which got US$28m support from the World Bank, has been a dismal failure, leading to its suspension by the bank, because of mismanagement. The project had as one of its goals strengthening patrols in our territorial waters to prevent foreign trawlers from illegal fishing.
Kallon said his organisation was working assiduously to trace some of the vessels and alert the authorities, although he added that they had sent several reports to stakeholders for appropriate action, yet illegal fishing continues unabated.
An official at the Ministry of Fishery and Marine Resources, who is charged with the responsibility of monitoring fishing vessels, Mohamed Kamara, admitted that many foreign vessels are illegally operating in the country’s territorial waters, but insisted that they pay heavy fines whenever they are apprehended.
However, the country lacks capacity to effectively patrol its vast territorial waters and rein in on illegal fishing boats. Recently, the Joint Navy and Police patrol team said they were in need of millions of Leone to buy boats to regularly patrol the vast territorial waters.