Amidst ongoing unprecedented rate of illegal fishing activities in Sierra Leone waters, the Sierra Leone fisheries ministry is strengthening efforts to put a stop to the malaise.
An EU estimate reckoned that Sierra Leone is losing about 30 million USD to illegal fishing, prompting national and international efforts to put an ultimate end to illegal fishing and piracy on the territorial waters of the country.
According to the Owl newspaper, the minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Elizabeth Mans, is leaving no stone unturned to put an ultimate end to illegal fishing on territorial waters of the country.
In many maritime regions of the world, illegal fishing has massively contributed to the depletion of fish stocks, especially in developing countries’ coastal waters.
The ministry is presently installing forty Transponders (a radio/radar transceiver that automatically transmits electrical signals) on board registered fishing vessels.
According to the head of fisheries Protection Unit in the ministry, Victor Hamusa Kargbo, the exercise which will last for
two months will provide an opportunity for the ministry to ascertain or verify positions of the vessels, thereby keeping record of their daily activities.
The world’s fish stocks are not only under threat from intensive legal fishing activities; they are also at risk from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
This unscrupulous fishing practice also exacerbates the problem of overfishing because IUU vessels even operates in marine protected areas where a total fishing ban has been imposed.
It is difficult to estimate precisely the total catch from pirate fishing. Researchers are engaged in the painstaking process of collating data from various countries’ fisheries control agencies, experts’ estimates, trade figures and findings of independent research expedition’s in order to arrive at an approximate figure of the total IUU catch.
As this is a black market, estimates are bound to be unreliable. Some experts put the annual figure at around 11 million
tonnes; some suggest that it may be higher than 26 million tonnes. It has been established that the main reason why IUU is of particularly critical issue today is that many fish stocks have already been overexploited by legal fishing activities. The situation off the west coast of Africa is particularly critical. According to research, IUU accounts for an estimated 40% of fish caught—the highest level worldwide.
A fisheries expert described this situation as ‘disastrous’ for a region’s already overexploited fish stocks.