By Amin Kef Sesay
According to a Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Public Notice dated 28th March 2022, in accordance with the objectives and purposes set out in Section 9 of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, 2018 for the management, development and conservation of the fisheries resources of Sierra Leone and by the powers vested upon the Minister as provided for in Section 10 of the same Act, it has pleased the Hon. Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources to declare the 1 – 30 April. 2022 a “Closed Season”.
The Ministry continues that this conservation and management measure, which primary objectives are to reduce fishing pressures, rebuild fish stocks and prevent over exploitation will be implemented in collaboration with other stakeholders in the fisheries sector including the Ministry of Trade, Navy, Marine Police, Customs, Sierra Leone Industrial Fishing Association and the Artisanal Fishermen Consortium with advice from the Director of Fisheries and the Scientific, Economic and Technical Committee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
It was stated that during this period, the following shall be adhered to:-
All fishing companies should stock their cold rooms with various types of fish species and quantity, proportionate to the number of fishing vessels which they operate before the start of the Closed Season.
That all industrial and decked semi-industrial fishing vessels should report to port on or before 23:59 hours on the 31st March 2022 and should have their VMS on at all times with exception to Tuna Fishing Vessels.
No export by land, sea and air of fish from all operators of fishing vessels, fish processing establishments, Artisanal fishermen and the general public during the closed season.
That the Artisanal Fishermen consortium will collaborate with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to ensure that all fish caught by artisanal fishermen are sold to the local market.
No fishing by artisanal boats in the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Fishing Companies must ensure that their Sales Agents distribute fish evenly and at affordable prices.
It was also underscored that the Ministry will work closely with its key stakeholders to intensify monitoring and surveillance of the country’s territorial waters.
Against the aforementioned, the Ministry is therefore calling on all and sundry to cooperate and ensure that the Management measure is successfully implemented.