NaFAA Commissions Moroccan newly constructed Research Vessel

Jan 30, 2024 - 09:59
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NaFAA Commissions Moroccan newly constructed Research Vessel

It can be recalled on January 31, 2023 the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority Hon. Emma Metieh Glassco and the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, rural development, water and forest H.E Mohammed SADIKI signed an agreement that would allow the Moroccan research vessel to conduct an independent stock assessment on Liberia’s territorial water to ascertain its commercial viability and attract further investments.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony over the weekend in Monrovia at the Bong Mines Pier near the Freeport of Monrovia NafAA Director General Madam Emma Metieh Glassco said the lack of scientific data in the fishery sector of Liberia has long undermined the performance of Liberia’s fisheries sector over the years as it’s a critical factor in informing management decisions and attracting potential investment especially from the private sector. 
She to the gathering that the  Fish Stock assessment exercise is basically an activity which seeks to collect information on the abundance and distribution of various kinds of fish species within Liberia’s waters in terms of its commercial value and ecological importance. Also the initiative seeks to industrialize the Liberia fishing sector to provide socio-economic growth to its populations like most of its sister countries. 
Liberia a coastal state and a post state is geographically advantaged with a coastline of 579km and has an enviable history of exporting shellfish such as shrimps, lobsters and other high value species during its pre-war era, precisely in the 1970s.  However, since the post-war era Liberia fishing sector has been characterized by subsistence and artisanal fishing activities which yield less return to the country as compared to other fishing nations.
The NaFAA boss further turn the commissioning of the Moroccan state of state of the art Scientific Research Vessel as a major achievement of a milestone for Liberia as the Country endeavor to collect the requisite data of marine and ensure the sustainable management of valuable resources.
 “Our efforts are to guarantee that everything counts including the taxonomy of the fish stock, the breeding ground, the biomass, habitat and distribution of the stocks across our coast line” Emma Metieh Glassco added 
She maintain that the  process is an opportunity to connect the economic viability of the whole chain to human development, improve livelihood opportunity, and maintain healthy fish stock and catches that will support economic development and food security.  
History about the project: NaFAA has been exploring means to open up the fisheries sector to its pre-war era. However, the key to jump starting this was to acquire current and accurate scientific data on the stocks, to guide NaFAA in decision making. National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority was privileged in 2020, to have gotten support through the World Bank, the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project to finance the conduct of a comprehensive and independent stock assessment. NaFAA also, reached out to partners and neighboring countries including the Kingdom of Morocco through a regional fisheries body such as ATLAFCO, The People’s Republic of China, Senegal as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) including other regional partners. However, all efforts seemed to have hit the wall. Although, Liberia through NaFAA later signed an agreement with FAO to form part of the list of countries to undergo routine assessment; it was not as comprehensive or country’s specific like this detail research activity that we are about to commence, however, it provided the basic information needed for precautionary fisheries management measures the we employed today. 
With consistent follow-ups and negotiations, finally on January 31, 2023, at the margins of the second session of the High-Level Conference for a scientific, economic, and environmental integration in favor of the Blue Belt Initiative by the Kingdom of Morocco, the Government of Liberia through the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority and the Kingdom of Morocco through its Ministry of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forestry signed an MOU for cooperation and the conduct of this Research here today.  
Moreover, Liberia was selected through a competitive process by ATLAFCO through  funding provided from the Japanese government (the Ministerial Conference on Fisheries Cooperation Among African States Bordering the Atlantic Ocean) to form part of countries selected for the conduct of this comprehensive research  assessment; a cost intensive initiative, with technical support from the Moroccan government   through its Research Institute Nationale de Recherche Halieutique (INRH) as well as their technical expertise for accurate reporting and the used of their new  state of the art  research vessel R/V AL HASSAN AL-MARRAKCHW, which was  commissioned on Friday January 26, 2023.
Glassco said Liberia as a nation was excited of the generosity from the Moroccan government and expect that the independent stock assessment will harness Liberia’s effort for sustainable fisheries management and conservation of the marine resources as well as establish the commercial viability of Liberia’s marine resources.
 “We anticipate that the study will survey demersal (bottom dwelling species) fish resources with an emphasis on shrimps and the pelagic (mid-water dwelling species) resources of the continental shelf of Liberia to determine the distribution and abundance of fish resources within the Exclusive Economic Zone” Emma Metieh Glassco told scored of Liberians and none-Liberia attending the commissioning program at the Free Port of Monrovia
In addition to determining distribution and abundance of demersal, pelagic and shrimp resources, the research will also determine the physical, chemical and biological conditions, sampling of micro plastics and recording the occurrence of marine debris.  Data will also be collected, and recorded, of sedentary and mobile benthos.
“Honorable Minister SADIKI, we are grateful for this support and cannot express how important this research will be for Liberia fisheries. Over 300 thousand Liberians directly and indirectly benefit from our fisheries sector providing different form of livelihood opportunities along the fisheries value chain. We look forward to strengthening this partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco at all levels, especially in relations to ensuring the sustainability of our ocean resources” the NaFAA boss expressed to the Moroccan government through its Liberia’s representative.
Also speaking the Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, rural development, water and forest of Morocco disclosed that the King of the Kingdom of Morocco has call for the development of integrated maritime economy to an extensive prospecting of off shore nature resources.
Minister Mohammed SADIKI said this integrated economy must be based on continual investment in the maritime fishing sector.
He promise the government of Morocco commitment to working with the Liberian fisheries sector for an improve NaFAA.
At the same, the Speaker of the 55th Legislature has described the Liberian fisheries sector as a continuing and positive part of the economy.
Officially launching and commissioning the Moroccan state of the art research vessel, Speaker Fonati Kofa noted that transitioning from artisanal fishing to industrialized and commercial fishing will economically benefit Liberia.
Speaker Kofi indicated that being able to take stock scientifically of what is contained in Liberia’s territorial waters and produce data to ensure the management of the resources is indeed a step forward for Liberia. 
Speaker Kofi officially cut the ribbon to the state-of-the-art research vessel owned by the government of the Kingdom of Morocco. The vessel was officially commissioned to conduct 14 days stock assessment across the nine coastal counties beginning with Grand Cape Mount on Friday January 26, 2024.

By: ALBERT & COLE

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William K Howard William K Howard Jr is a young Liberian Journalist who is focused on investigative and human-interest reporting. He comes with about 10 years of experience in mainstream journalism. William K Howard is currently the Deputy Director of News at CT.com Liberia Limited, Kool 91.9FM/TV. His hard work has also earned him several professional certificates in journalism including Journalist of the year 2022/2023 in Liberia's biggest city, Paynesville.