January 14, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
Green Scenery has called for the intensification of surveillance efforts in coastal fishing activities. The environmental organisation made the call during a press conference at its head office on Jones Street in Freetown.
Green Scenery, Christian Aid and Search for Common Ground are implementing an EU funded project called ‘Environment Governance Mainstreaming’ with the overall objective being to contribute towards environmental sustainability in Sierra Leone.
Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery Executive Director, urged the government to regulate migratory fishermen, provide for and educate fishermen on the right fishing gears, intensify surveillance efforts and support communities with alternative livelihood.
He said that though government has launched a surveillance boat, much still needs to be done to regulate the sector. “The government needs to regulate this sector and save fishermen in coastal communities as there is need for alternative livelihood activities,” he urged.
Alfred Issa Gassama, Project Manager at Green Scenery, said the organisation recently visited three communities on the Sherbro Island and one in Freetown, adding that all the communities visited have issues relating to the use of harmful fishing gears and methods, over fishing, invasion by foreign trawlers and agent boats, with apparent implications on livelihoods.
Gassama maintained that harmful fishing practices lead to the catching of newly spawned fish which subsequently creates problems which in turn affects the quality and quantity of fish, with the increase in the number of fishing boats at sea causing competition and conflict among fishermen.
He said in Delken, on Sherbro Island, the effects of climate change were clearly visible, with a reported rise in the sea level. “This village is observed to be pushed backward by at least two metres annually because of water intrusion. The community is engulfed by marshes, therefore, moving causes all houses in the village to be built very close to each other and there is a noticeable congestion because of this,” said Gassama.
He added: “This congestion poses risk of easy spread of disease, fire, and the village has had two fire incidents in the last two years. Fishermen in this community also face competition from migrant fishermen, including those from distant regions within the country such as Freetown, Sulima and Rotifunk, who do not obey local fishing by-laws and are better equipped.”
Seinya Amie Bakarr, Project Officer at the environmental non-governmental organisation, said the Bohal community is challenged just as others are, as residents are solely dependent on fishing for their livelihood, although it is fast dwindling and there is an urgent need for alternative livelihoods.
She said foreign trawlers were frequent in the area, which causes a lot of problem for local fishermen. “The women from the community are particularly concerned about agents for large scale fishing companies buying fish from fishermen at sea. This quick cash brings a disadvantage to women because their husbands no longer bring fish or the money from sales home.
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Their role as fish processors and marketers has been greatly reduced,” she said.
She added Tombo community records huge decline in fish catch and that fishermen have to go to other regions of the country to get good catch.
“It is worth to note that longer days at sea come with various risk and fishermen in that community feel the government is not doing enough to protect them,” she concluded.