The Director-General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Madam Emma Glasco has announced a new fee structure for fisherman and women operating in Liberia’s territorial waters that will be based on the capacity of the engines of their fishing boats..
Making the announcement at her first press conference of the New Year on Thursday last week, Madam Glasco said the new measure is part of the NaFAA management’s programs to resuscitate the sector and increase revenue generation.
Madam Glasco said the new fee structure will affect only 600 motorized engines and semi-industrial boats out of 4,300 small canoes.
Under the new structure which takes effect immediately, owners of paddling canoes will pay the sum of L$3,200 annually.
This group, according to Madam Glasco, will receive no increment in fees until the government provides the necessary subsidies such as outboard motor engines and nets to improve their capacity.
Operators of 1Hp (House power) to 14Hp will pay a yearly fee of US$200. The previous fee was L$5,500; while 15Hp to 40 Hp fees have been increased from L$10,000 to US$475.
Those operating between 41Hp and 100Hp will now pay US$1,000 annually; while operators of migrant or seasonal canoes have been charged US$1,250 yearly.
Giving detailed reasons for the increment of license fees, the NaFAA boss stated that many fishermen have been operating without a legal fee structure.
The ‘gentlemen’ agreement with previous administrations, she said was depriving government of needy revenues and is not consistent with international standards.
Liberia, in the 1970s was one of Africa’s leading fisheries nations. Statistics showed that the country generated at least $40 million from shrimp fishery harvested within the three nautical mile limits where the country has bulk of its marine reserves, considering the deep, steep and narrow continental shelf of Liberia.
However, there has been a significant decline following the civil war in Lineria; although there have been several measures put in place to revamp the sector.
In 2010, the Government established the six-nautical mile limit, a fishing zone reserve for only subsistence/artisanal and semi-industrial fishing activities.
The NaFAA boss however said this zone has been underexploited as local fishermen lack the capacity for an improved fishing technology to harvest in the industry.
Because this zone prohibits industrial fishing activities, she disclosed that many industrial fishermen have pulled out of the domestic fishing registry.
Areas beyond the six-nautical miles, she added, is deep and narrow, and require high fuel consumption for harvest which is low.
“The entity incurred great losses in revenue as there is a limited fishing activities in this zone. Local fishermen cannot harness fish to their maximum potential,” she said.
“Fisherfolks are affected by low-income earnings, resulting in increased importation of fish product from neighboring countries such as Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Ghana, thus leading to huge loss in revenue generation as well as greatly affecting Liberia’s dietary animal protein which 65 percent of our population depends on.”
In order to compete with other fishing countries of the region including Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Ghana, the NaFAA Director-General called on the local fishermen to be fair enough to pay for the resources harvested.
This, she noted, will allow the government to provide subsidy to fishmongers and develop a robust semi-industrial program to include a value-added component such as processing facility.
She added that the authority will not allow any fisherman in its territorial waters without a valid fishing license.
To ensure compliance, a fishery taskforce comprising of the Liberia Coast Guard, Immigration officers and the Liberian National Police will effectively monitor and control Liberia’s territorial waters.
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