Chaired by Hon. Neneh Lebbie the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Fisheries and Marine Resources have on Wednesday 15th June 2022 engaged fishing and marine stakeholders along with the Tombo Coastal Rural communities in the Western Rural Area, in order to ascertain information on fishing and marine activities.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of the said Committee in Parliament said since 2018 they have established a good working relationship with the fishing community, especially the artisanal fishermen.
She emphatically underscored the constructive working conditions and the relationship between the fishing community and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
The Chairperson said they are on a fact-finding mission to ascertain how the fisheries and marine sector are doing, relative to illegal fishing, bad fishing nets, improve sanitation, positive working relationship with fishermen and the ministry as well as an update on surveillance the boats, the youth in the fisheries project, construction, and maintenance of marine properties and fishing safety.
Given an update, the Fishery Officer, Fatmata Binta Jalloh attached to the Tombo Community said with the collaboration of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), they have built an ice plant, toilet facilities, and over 142 pipe-borne water taps around the Tombo Community and underscored the positive working relationship with the fishing community and that of the ministry. In terms of working conditions and fishing regulations, she clarified that fishermen are using the right fishing gear.
Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Fishers Consortium Union, Masudi K. Koroma commended MPs and the Committee for reuniting the operation of the fishing consortium around the county. He heaped praises on the committee for their leadership role and noted that they are working under a positive umbrella with all consortiums. He said the consortium needs the power to control fishermen and arrest them for illegal fishing. “We need the Ministry to support in this process,” he maintained. On surveillance, he said, collaboration is needed from various sectors in the fisheries sector to empower the fishing consortium.
In his Submission, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Consortium, Wudie Bakie Koroma said the coastal fishing communities that usually produced hazardous waste materials in their communities have been reduced drastically and acknowledged the tremendous improvement in sanitation, in the fishing communities. He also informed the Committee that, the project on youth in fisheries is going on well and applauded the ministry for supporting the process.
The illegal net, he said is one of the most challenging issues in the fishing sector, but noted that the Fishery and Marine Resources Ministry had supplied the right fishing nets to the fishing communities. He said there is a lot of illegal fishing going on in fishing communities across the country, and called on Parliament and the Government to do all in their powers to address the illegal fishing in the coastal communities.
He said the Tombo community is the hub of fishing in Sierra Leone and called for more pave sites for the fishermen to mend their nets and also pleaded with the Government to provide subsidies to fishermen to improve fishing nets. He blamed the private sector for selling and encouraging the use of illegal fishing nets by fishermen.
The Chairlady, Kadie Seto Fofanah, appreciated the Ministry of Fisheries sector for a good working relationship with the association and underscored the importance of the improved Smoke system, and oven provided by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources for the fishing sector. She also praised the Ministry through UNDP for providing them with boats.
Welcoming the Committee at the Fishing Boat Yard at Tombo, Sarah Bah, Head of Tombo Community appreciated Parliament for their tremendous strides so far in improving the fishing sector. On bad fishing nets, he called on the Government to discourage businessmen from importing bad fishing nets into the fishing communities. He spoke on the recycling process of waste materials project to be supported in the Tombo Community. On the rehabilitation of government structures in the fishing sector, he said a board has been set up to the monitor government’s assert and properties
MPs who spoke at the meeting commended stakeholders in the fisheries sector and advised them to do more to address the issues of the illegal fishing, bad nets, and other related matters that are affecting the fishing industry
The Committee in their deliberations promised to engage Senior Officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to discuss on issues highlighted and find a way to address them.