By Mohamed Bangura (intern)
Local fishermen at Portee Wharf have voiced their apprehensions regarding a recent announcement made by the police enforcing a ban on boats docking at wharves after 7 p.m.
The above decision has sparked concerns among the fishing community, as they feared it will have a detrimental impact on their livelihoods.
Mohamed Koroma, an experienced fisherman with over 30 years of expertise fishing across the country, shared his thoughts on the matter in an interview with the Concord Times.
In addition to his extensive experience, Mohamed is also an active member of the Fishermen Association.
He expressed his worries about the current economic situation, highlighting the growing challenges faced by local fishermen, including the soaring fuel prices and the increasing costs of other commodities. Mohamed emphasised the need for the government to take their concerns into account and reconsider the implementation of such laws. He firmly believes that failing to address those issues will lead to a significant negative impact on their ability to provide for their families. As a father of seven children, Mohamed understands the responsibility that rests on his shoulders.
The Chief of Portee Wharf Community,Abdulai Sesay, reiterated the importance of proper communication and consultation with the fishing community.
Expressing dissatisfaction, he stated that they should have been given a minimum of two months’ notice about the ban.
He emphasised their willingness to comply with the law but stressed the need for the government to consider the implications and negative consequences that that night fishing ban could have on the community. He highlighted the significant role that fishermen play in promoting self-employment and reducing the burden of unemployment on the government.
He humbly pleaded with the authorities to reconsider their decision and find a solution that takes into account the needs of the fishing community.
Kadiatu Kamara, a fishmonger at the wharf, also shared her concerns about the ban. As someone who depends on a percentage basis with the fishermen, she argued that the law would impact her even more than the fishermen themselves.
Being a single mother with four children, Kadiatu expressed her worry about the potential negative consequences the ban could have on her ability to support her family.
She joined the plea to the government to adjust the timing, allowing them more flexibility to continue their fishing activities.
A fisherman who preferred anonymity, expressed their frustration with what they perceived as hypocrisy in the journalism field.
He argued that journalists should prioritise the welfare of fishermen and not advocate for a ban on nighttime fishing.
He highlighted that a significant number of fishermen, including themselves, typically engage in nighttime fishing, returning in the morning with their catch.
He emphasised that the role of fishermen as suppliers of fish to the country cannot be underestimated and noted that a ban on nighttime fishing could have detrimental effects on millions of people who rely on affordable fish as a food source.
The anonymous fisherman asserted that their operations have always been conducted legally and have not engaged in any illicit activities.
He questioned as to why journalists would advocate for a ban on their activities, without considering the negative consequences it could have on the fishing community and the wider population.
He stressed that fishermen play a vital role in ensuring that the country is supplied with affordable fish.
He argued that a ban on nighttime fishing would severely limit their ability to meet the demand and could result in increased fish prices. This, in turn, would have a direct impact on consumers, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, who heavily rely on fish as a nutritious and affordable option.
The anonymous fisherman concluded by urging journalists to be more aware of the potential repercussions of their actions and called for a re-assessment of the support provided to the fishing community and for a more balanced approach that takes into account the livelihoods and contributions of fishermen in the country.
The fishing community at Portee Wharf highlights the vital role they play not only in their personal sustenance, but also in reducing the burden on the government.
With the rising costs of living and the challenging economic circumstances, it is crucial for the government to consider the concerns raised.
The plea from the fishermen echoes the need for a comprehensive assessment of the implications of the ban, and a collaborative effort in finding a solution that upholds the interests of both the fishing community and the authorities.