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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Illegal fishing in Sierra Leone what's the big deal?

Sierra Leone community surveillance project with the Environmental Justice Foundation is working to combat illegal fishing in the small Western African country.



What is the big deal about illegal fishing?

Over a billion people, most of whom are poor, depend on fish as a source of animal protein. Fish is the cheapest source of animal protein in the country and it therefore affects positively on Sierra Leone’s food security issues. Sierra Leone is gifted with abundant fish resources that have the potential of contributing significantly to food security, income and employment.
Opportunities for aqua-farming are plentiful in Sierra Leone's marine environment and the inland water bodies. Sierra Leone made around US $107,917,633.00 (2005 UN FAO) in the fishing industry. Over-fishing can result in the collapse of entire communities due to loss of income from illegal fishing.
Environmental Justice Foundation

Sierra Leone’s industrial fisheries are significantly export-oriented and the fleet ownership is almost wholly foreign based. According to Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) website has developed partnerships with local communities, the Government of Sierra Leone and local and international organizations working to combat pirate fishing.
Fisherman mending his nets



EJF’s boat travels to reported locations and documents vessels fishing illegally using photography, film and GPS equipment. Images and position information are then analyzed in EJF’s offices in Sierra Leone and London to establish the identity of the vessels, which is usually concealed.
Since January 2011, EJF has documented eight vessels operating illegally. As a result, over US $100,000 in fines have been collected by the Government of Sierra Leone. Between January 2010 and January 2012 EJF received 252 reports of illegal trawler activity in the Sherbro River Area. However, since January 2012, no trawlers have been sighted in the area after the Sierra Leone Government fined two vessels documented by EJF over US $300,000.

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