Pleebo — The compliance and enforcement team of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), has arrested several illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishermen, comprising mainly Ghanaians.
According to a release, the illegal fishermen were arrested along the Kru Coast on Thursday, January 14, by the compliance team headed by NaFAA Deputy Director General for Technical Services, William Y. Boeh, along with the Liberia National Coast Guard during the final leg of inspection for 2020 in various fishing communities across the country.
While those arrested are said to be undergoing investigation, the seven illegal motorized engines were reportedly transported to Grand Bassa through the Katar beach and turned over to the Liberia National Coast Guard for onward delivery to the offices of NaFAA technical services.
The arrest took place in Nifu, a hidden fishing community along the Dorbor River in Sass Town, connecting the sea in Grand Kru County, following a tip off by some local fishermen in Grandcess.
“Fishermen in Grandcess informed NaFAA compliance team that the Ghanaians are migrant fishermen who are involved in illegal activities in Nifu fishing community,” the release indicated.
Fishermen in Grandcess, during a meeting with NaFAA compliance and enforcement team, further complained that the IUU (fishing without license) Ghanaian fishermen are noted for running their nets into that of the locals whenever they are fishing illegally.
NaFAA said the migrant fishermen acted to have registered under false pretense that they were resident Ghanaian fishermen but their activities speak to the fact that they were migrants.
The release said following the registration of the Ghanaian fishermen and subsequent launch of an investigation, it was established that they were migrant fishermen involved in fermented fishing or Muah-muah unknown to the Liberian fisheries authority.
Making the disclosure following more than four-hour motorized canoe ride at the hide out of the IUU Ghanaian fishermen, the Supervisor of the small skills unit within the Marine & Environment Division of NaFAA , Mr. Emmanuel B. Davis, mentioned that the Ghanaian fishermen have established their own fishing communities separately from that of the locals.
All fermented fishes caught last fishing year (2020) were undeclared to the Fisheries Authority and illegally shipped out of Liberia, according to the release.
In a related development, the NaFAA compliance and enforcement team has also seized two motorized engines belonging to a group of notorious sea cucumber fishermen headed by a Sierra Leonean, Adulia Massaray.
The illegal sea cucumber fishermen who previously registered to fish sea cucumbers with a single motorized engine and a canoe in 2020 have illegally brought into the country another engine and a canoe without the consent of fisheries authority.
Reports say the Sierra Leonean sea cucumber fishermen operated with their unregister canoes and outboard motor engines since the beginning of 2021, thereby violating the fisheries laws of Liberia by exporting cucumbers without an export permit from NaFAA, depriving the sector of legal revenues.
The release added that they had previously operated in Rivercess County where the compliance and enforcement team had gone in search of them in late December 2020, but they reportedly escaped after being informed by some locals.
The sea cucumber fishermen later went to Sasstown in Grand Kru County where they thought they could have operated without the supervision of the competent authority, when they were later discovered.
NaFAA regrets that these international illegal fishermen have been hosted by groups of Liberians in all of the hideouts within the fishing communities in Liberia, and as such, there is a need to have them arrested for illegally taking away fish resources from the Liberian waters.
Meanwhile, five of the seven outboard engines seized by the NaFAA Compliance Team, belong to the group of illegal Ghanaian fishermen, while the two others are owned by the illegal sea cucumber fishermen who are mainly Sierra Leoneans.
NaFAA observes that the illegal fishing activities have over the years caused serious financial loss to the Liberian fisheries sector, depriving the sector of millions of United States dollars which could have contributed to the development programs of Liberia.
The NaFAA has over the years arrested both local and foreign illegal, unreported and unregulated fishermen, including confiscation of fishing equipment but it appears the culprits are doubling their illegal efforts to damage the Liberian fishing waters.