The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), has signed a fisheries research Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Monrovia, the entity said in a release.
The MoU, according to the release, entails fisheries independent stock assessment using a fisheries research vessel named Dr. Firdtjof Nansen, to enhance small-scale fisheries and capacity building.
The MoU will also support the application of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management considering the climate and pollution impacts.
NaFAA Director General, Mrs. Emma Metieh Glassco, who spoke on Thursday, August 8, 2019 at the signing ceremony, said that the MoU has huge economic prospects for the country.
Mrs. Glassco assured that the collaboration between NaFAA and FAO will enable the country to have access to current fisheries data from the fish stock assessments, which have not been available for several decades.
Madam Glassco said that with the availability of those fisheries data from the stock assessments, authorities of NaFAA will use the information gathered to operate fisheries programs that have not been operational.
She said NaFAA has not been in the position to issue other fisheries licenses, because of the lack of data to make informed decision.
She said that Liberia has six fisheries, with the large pelagic and deep water demersal open to industrial vessels, and the four not open to industrial vessels, "because there is no data to make informed decisions."
"We have not been able to give out any fish license for those fisheries, because we do not have any recent statistics on the status of the fish stocks so that whole fish regime has not been operated for a very long time," Madam Glassco said.
She said that information gather from the assessment will inform NaFAA's management on how to develop a fish quota management plan, which will also be used for fish licensing program to give vessels certain quota to fish in Liberian waters.
Earlier, FAO Country Representative, Mariatou Njie, reaffirmed the United Nations' support toward the development and improvement of the Liberian fisheries sector.
Madam Njie said that collaboration between NaFAA and the FAO will enable Liberia, through the local fisheries authority, to have a clear picture of the current status of the fish stock and make proper decisions that will yield economic benefits.
She said the agreement was reached among the seven countries in the Gulf of Guinea, including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. She also said that the agreement will enable countries involved to exchange knowledge and experience.
According to NaFAA, fisheries stock assessments are key to fisheries management. They examine the effects of fishing and other factors to describe the past and current status of a fish stock, answer questions about the size of a fish stock, and make predictions about how a fish stock will respond to current and future management measures.
Fish stock assessments support sustainable fisheries by providing fisheries managers with the information necessary to make sound decisions. Why Are Fish Stock Assessments Important for Liberia? Fisheries in Liberia contribute significantly to the national economy and accounts for an estimated 40,000 people employed directly or indirectly in the sector.
More than 50% of protein requirements in the Liberian diet comes from fish. To continue enjoying these benefits, we must carefully manage fish stocks to ensure sustainable use for current and future generations. Stock assessments provide important science information necessary for the conservation and management of fish stocks.