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Fishermen may return to ‘bad fishing method’

February 29, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Fishermen in England field, Tombo, Shenge, Kent and Tokeh wharfs may return to the use of monofilament fishing nets, which the government in 2010 described as a ‘bad fishing method’.

The monofilament fishing nets were banned in 2010 by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, which referred to them as ‘destructive fishing practice’ because they have small mesh sizes that capture young species.

The ministry argued that if young fish species were captured in large scale over a period of time the country’s rivers may run out of fish.

A fisherman at England field wharf, Sallieu Thoronka, told Concord Times that they at present use fishing nets recommended by government, which they buy at very expensive cost.

“We spend a lot of money to buy other fishing gadgets like the outboard machines, among others. The 40 horse-power outboard machine costs Le20 million, the 25 horse-power costs Le17 million and the 15 horse-power costs Le15 million,” he disclosed, adding that it months to recover that expenditure from fish catch.

He called on the government to provide the recommended fishing nets and outboard machines, even if as loan, or they might revert to using the monofilament fishing nets which are less expensive.

At Tombo wharf, a fisherman called Gibril Bendu said they face many constraints, especially with the use of the recommended fishing nets.

“In fact, the nets are not available in the country for sale. We normally send to neighbouring Guinea to buy them,” he said.

He said thieves steal their fishing nets and chains, thus adding to an already bad situation.

“We have decided not to take our fishing vessels to the landing facility at Tombo because it has a lot of rocks that may damage them. If the government does not make it [Tombo wharf] properly, we will not use it,” he claimed.

But Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Max Konneh, said when the monofilament fishing net was banned few years ago, the government, with support from their Japanese counterpart, provided 20% nets for the fishermen on a cost recovery basis.

“The reason why we banned the monofilament net is that it does not get rot easily because it is nylon. This makes it possible to stay long in the waters and continue to catch small species of sea animals,” he said.

He added that plans were underway for the government to distribute fishing nets to 50% fishermen in the country.

“Honestly, there is no local market for the recommended fishing nets as the fishermen have told you. That is why the Ministry will procure and sell them to them on a cost recovery basis,” he stated.

With regards outboard machines, he said, “we cannot assure them that we can provide them because they involve cost implications. However, if there is any opportunity for us to do so, we will.”

In respect of landing sites, he said, the ministry had signed a contract with Neptune, a local company, to manage them, although he denied they were white elephant projects as some fishermen have claimed.

“Neptune has already started the rehabilitation process of these landing sites which are situated in Goderich, Shenge, Tombo and Bonthe Island. Even the rocks at the landing site in Tombo will be taken care of by Neptune, so as to make it user friendly to the fishermen,” he disclosed.

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