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For lack of landing site…

Fish catch poorly handled at England field wharf

February 26, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Fishermen in England field wharf, Tafunya community at Goderich, in the Western Area Rural District, currently put their fish catch for the day on the ground for lack of a landing site.

Besides putting fish catch on the ground, there are many other sanitation challenges at the wharf, including but not limited to, the absence of proper toilet facility, heaps of garbage very close to the wharf, and dogs and pigs excreta.

Fish products from Sierra Leone are not certified to be sold in the European market owing to issues relating to standards and institutional capacity such as landing sites with basic infrastructure for prevention of fish product contamination. This limits the country’s participation in the lucrative international fish trade and undercuts the revenue potential of the sector.

In 2011, the Government of Sierra Leone, in a bid to strengthen the management of its marine resources, sought the support of the World Bank to reform the country’s fisheries governance. The World Bank’s intervention came through a US$ 28 million project as part of the West African Regional Fisheries Programme-WARFP-SL.

The major objectives of the programme were to strengthen the capacity of the country to effectively manage its fisheries, reduce illegal fishing and increase local value addition.

The project though failed abysmally due to lack of capacity of staff employed by the government and financial mismanagement, the bank insisting that some of the funds it ploughed into the project should be refunded.

Foday Kabia, a fisherman that this reporter met at the wharf mending his nets, said because of the absence of landing site at the wharf they put fish catch on the ground. He added that there is no proper toilet facility in the densely populated fishing community, hence children are seen openly defecating on the river bank.

“There are many pigs and dogs here, so they always defecate everywhere at the wharf. It is not easy to control them because we don’t even know their owners,” he said.

This community, he said, is neglected, adding that the government does not care about about their condition of life.

“We are here because there is no job in the country. This is the only thing that we do to feed ourselves and families, pay school fees for our children,” he noted and added that they pay the sum of Le100,000 annually for each fishing vessel.

 The harbour master of the wharf, Osman Turay, commonly called ‘papay’, said they have no other option but to land fish catch on the bare ground at the wharf.

“We don’t catch snappers and other big species here, we only catch herring fish. We are also using the right fishing nets to do our activities,” he emphasised.

Sierra Leone has an estimated 300 kilometres of coastline and a continental shelf that is enhanced by numerous rivers and huge rainfall. Though having a rich reservoir of marine fisheries, which could have been sold globally, capacity issues and graft largely compromise sustainable investment in the country’s untapped marine resources.

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