Contrary to reports that Liberia has entered an unscrupulous fisheries agreement that licensed 300 Senegalese vessels to operate in the country's territorial waters, the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority NaFAA, Emma Glassco, has said that the fisheries deal is not yet complete but will require some diplomatic protocol.
She stated that the deal, when finalized, stands to immensely benefit the country in the areas of jobs creation for local fishermen and in ensuring food security for Liberians as well as reduce illegal fishing.
Madam Glassco made the clarification yesterday in Monrovia at the Ministry of information Cultural and Tourism regular press briefing.
"Liberia stands to greatly benefit from the fisheries agreement even though it has to go through final stages of diplomatic protocol," she said.
According to her the 300 fishing vessels earmarked under the agreement have not been licensed for business.
"We haven't provided any of the fishing vessels license to operate in the country as was wrongly reported. This is a cooperation framework that the fishermen can decide. The government of Senegal has not paid us money to influence the decision. It is a protocol that protect the fishermen to do fishing as they are required the same treatment given to our local fishermen.
She mentioned that the coming of the fishermen is based on the limited available resources in the fishery sector.
"Fishery is managed by scientific evidence that require stock assessment. For example if we have 500 stacks that we intend to distribute to the different 400 fishing boats, we may think whether it is convenient to give out the remaining amount to additional vessels," she said.
She said that the agreement is meant to increase the availability of fish on the local market and to create more processing fishing facilities, adding that Liberia is the only country in the sub region whose fishery sector is underperforming.
"Liberia's fishery sector is yet to contribute significantly to the gross domestic product as it account for only 3 percent. There is a need that Liberia compete with other West African countries on the catch of fish and its processing.
She further said that the agreement will also help to develop the aquaculture sector.
"We are seeking for opportunity that will attract investors to develop our aquaculture sector to enable rural people engage into fish farming.
Meanwhile, Madam Glassco has clarified that the agreement is not an initiative of the current administration but something that was proposed by the past government.
"This agreement is an access agreement that is in line with the Pro-Poor Agenda, particularly pillar 2 which relates to the enhancement of jobs creation. But it has been in progress since 2010 and was taken serious by our administration," she added.