« Data is a key tool to Fisheries Management », says Liberia Fisheries Director General of the Liberian National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), as Stock Assessment with Moroccan Vessel begins, in the presence of Abdelhouaed Benabbou, Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among the African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), whose members include Cameroon.
The commissioning ceremony of the Moroccan research vessel to conduct scientific fish stock assessment on Liberian waters has taken place at the Bong Mines Pier near the Freeport of Monrovia on Bushrod Island with huge attendance from local and international guests.
The Moroccan government’s state-of-the-art research vessel has been officially commissioned to conduct a 14-day stock assessment in Liberia’s nine coastal counties, starting in Grand Cape Mount on Friday, January 26, 2024.
The ship’s launching ceremony took place on Friday, January 26, 2024, at the Bong Mines Wharf, near the Monrovia Free Port on Bushrod Island in the presence of Abdelhouaed Benabbou, Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among the African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), whose members include Cameroon.
A historic moment for Liberia with the start of a crucial mission to scientifically assess fish stocks in its territorial waters by a Moroccan research vessel. It marks a crucial milestone in Liberia’s efforts to collect the necessary data on marine resources and ensure sustainable management of these precious resources.
Taking part in the event, the Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation among the African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean (ATLAFCO), Mr. Abdelhouaed Benabbou, said: « This campaign is vitally important for the preservation and sustainable management of this country’s precious marine resources. This remarkable initiative, in line with the provisions of the Convention of our common regional organization, ATLAFCO, has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Moroccan authorities, who have made their brand new research vessel available ».
The joint initiative between Liberia and Morocco is a testament to South-South cooperation and commitment to preserving the oceans for future generations. This is a significant step towards responsible fishing and enlightened management of marine resources.
He added: « This South-South collaboration provides a real opportunity to celebrate regional fisheries cooperation in the conservation of marine resources. Liberia, as a coastal nation, has considerable marine wealth that plays a critical economic role. However, this wealth is threatened by overfishing, requiring national responsibility to reverse this trend ».
The lack of scientific data has affected the performance of Liberia’s fisheries sector over the years, according to Emma Metieh Glassco, director general of the Liberian National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA). Explaining more about the process of stock assessment, she pointed out that « it is an activity which seeks to collect information on the abundance and distribution of various kinds of fish species within a body of waters in terms of its commercial value and ecological importance », and « our efforts are to guarantee that everything counts including the taxonomy of the fish stock, the breeding ground, the biomass, habitat, and distribution of the stocks across our coastline». She stressed the critical importance of data in fisheries management and its critical role in determining the best management approaches. For her, data is essential for African countries to inform management decisions and attract potential investments.
« The sustainable management of our marine fisheries begins with the acquisition of better knowledge about the state of our resources, their catch potential, and the variability of the marine environment, » said Ivorian Minister of Animal and Fisheries Resources, current president of ATLAFCO, Sidi Tiémoko Touré,
« Our policies must be based on effective and dynamic fisheries research, a priority objective to establish viable strategies for the sustainability of our countries’ fisheries resources, »
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests of Morocco, Mohammed Sadiki, recalled the call of the King of the Kingdom of Morocco for the development of an integrated maritime economy to explore the extent of natural resources at sea. This integrated economy must be based on continued investment in the marine fisheries sector.
Léon Bernard Gara, Journalist,
Member of Media Observatory for Sustainable Fishing in Africa (Observatoire des Médias pour une Pêche Durable en Afrique), MOSFA – OMPDA, with the Communications and Media Services, National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority NaFAA, Liberia.