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Collaborative efforts arrest illegal fishing vessels
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Collaborative efforts arrest illegal fishing vessels

Three sub-regional countries conduct joint fisheries monitoring and surveillance operation

SIERRA LEONE: Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Guinea recently collaborated with the support of the European Union to launch a 15-day Joint Regional Surveillance and Monitoring Operation code named Operation STINGRAY to address illegal fishing in their territorial waters. A number of ship arrests were made.

According to researchers, millions of United States Dollars are lost to IUU annually, especially in the African sub-region, thereby depriving states of much needed revenue.

Speaking during the closed session of the operation, held at the Joint Monitoring Committee, JMC Headquarters, Murray Town, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Emma Kowa Jalloh, said, the exercise was a demonstration of member states’ willingness and readiness to curb illegal fishing and strengthening good governance within the sub-region

“The fight against illegal fishing cannot be done by a country alone,” she said and applauded the European Union for funding the exercise and ensuring that the governance of fisheries in the sub-region is implemented through regional approach.

She intimated that Sierra Leone has introduced a number of reforms in the fisheries sector including the review of obsolete laws and policies in line with President Bio’s desire to streamline the fisheries sector in the country.

She also reported on the ongoing CLOSED SEASON measures introduced by government to protect the country’s fish stock from depletion.

Giving an update on the operation, the coordinator of the exercise, Mahmoud Ball, said, the operation, which succeeded in arresting several vessels, was enhanced by the use of Aircraft, Patrol vessels, Vessel monitoring Systems and technical staff from the three coastal countries. He commended the minister of fisheries for her commitment since the operation started and her country, Sierra Leone for cooperating with other nations to ensure the operation was successful.

Giving a brief background about the Sub-Regional Commission, SRFC through which the operation was undertaken, he said It is made up of seven states, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone with the objective of promoting long term harmonization of national policies in the areas of conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries and marine resources and at a given time, monitor fishing activities in each member state, among others.

He outlined a number of challenges they faced including COVID-19 which affected some of their staff and lack of adequate and effective communication equipment information links between patrol vessels, headquarters and operation centres.

The Acting Director of Fisheries, Josephus Mamie who chaired the meeting, said Sierra Leone has ensured that legal and regulatory frameworks that are necessary to combat illegal fishing such as the Code of conduct for responsible fishing practice, Fisheries Management Plan, Ports States Agreement, UN Fish Stock Assessment Agreement, among others are formulated, and acceded to.

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