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World Bank says license fees for fishing trawlers too low

-calls for new improved tariff

May 20, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Country Manager for the World Bank office in Sierra Leone yesterday stated that license fees paid by trawlers sailing in the country’s waters are too low, and that as a result about 95 trawlers currently sail the country’s waters.

Parminder P.S. Brar told a joint presser organised by his office, the United States Embassy and the European Union that based on their assessment, the number of trawlers that should embark on sustainable fishing in Sierra Leone waters should be between 30 and 40.

He noted that Sierra Leone currently charges less than one percent of the ex-value of the vessel as compared to the international normal charge of between 5 to 8%.

At present, the country only receives US$6 million annually from licenses obtained by fishing trawlers, in spite of having about 95 trawlers registered to fish in its territorial waters.

According to the World Bank Country Manager, because of the low license fees, most trawlers in the West Africa sub-region are attracted to fishing in the country’s waters, which inevitably leads to over fishing.

“The tariff needs to be repriced and improved. Liberia charges 10%. If Sierra Leone is to develop its fisheries, it needs to involve the private sector. For that to happen, they need a sustainable resource which is not available right now and good legal framework, which is also in the process of setting up,” he said.

Also, Mr. Brar said the draft fishery law is 186 pages long, with lots of materials in it that should have been included in fisheries regulation.

He urged that the proposed law should be in compliance with international best practices, adding that based on an assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank, it is not.

“We need to work with the government and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to revise and improve the fishery law before its goes to Cabinet and Parliament. Also, the country urgently needs a jetty on the Lungi side, where fish can be landed, processed and exported as per international standard,” he stated.

United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John Hoover, said that the country’s fisheries are probably its greatest natural resource.

He said that a well-managed fishery sector could help strengthen nutrition, health and food security of Sierra Leoneans, as well as generate jobs and provide revenue for the government.

“Fisheries are a renewable resource and if managed properly they can contribute to economic development and prosperity on a sustainable basis,” said Ambassador Hoover.

Head of the European Union Delegation, Ambassador Peter Versteeg, also spoke about the EU’s contribution to the improvement of artisanal fisheries in the country.

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