Fishing Industry Welcomes Protection of Sharks and Rays

January 9, 2019

Liberia has taken a historic step to commit to a national plan of action to protect Liberia’s sharks and rays in the next three years.

The fishermen’s commendation comes in the wake of the Liberian government’s decision to launch the National Plan of Action (NPOA) to conserve and manage sharks and rays.

Government, through the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA), said the action plan will not only make the country a leader in ocean conservation in West Africa, it will also help safeguard the food security and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Liberians.

The NAFAA has asked the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) to help implement the plan.

Deputy Director General for Technical Services of Liberia’s NaFAA, William Boeh, said the implementation of the plan will take place over the next three years.

“We, the people of Liberia most especially here at NAFAA are very proud and excited to announce that today we formally welcome and commit to EJF’s report recommendations to implement on a national action to sustainably manage and conserve sharks and rays no later than 7th of January 2019, and to have a finalized sharks and ray fishery management plan with concrete measures within a three year time-scale.”

He said currently Liberia has inadequate monitoring of its shark fisheries, with no management plan and legislation.

He noted that the plan of action is much needed for the sustainable management and conservation of sharks and rays.

He said by implementing the plan of action that focuses on twelve species of critical concern, Liberia as a coastal state within in the region, will be considered as a leader in the marine species management and conservation.

The announcement comes after EJF shared a report with NaFAA laying out the benefits of sustainably managing sharks and rays to Liberian coastal communities and marine ecosystems.

Sharks and rays play a vital role in the health of many marine habitats.

Amdeep Sanghera, EJF Liberia Country Coordinator says loss of sharks can lead to dramatic imbalances in the ecosystem that can cause the degradation of coral reefs and destruction of seagrass beds, both of which provide important nursery habitats for young fish.

“This is particularly significant in Liberia, where 33,000 people rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods, and 65% of all animal protein eaten comes from seafood.”

He said in Liberia, while data is especially sparse, EJF’s monitoring at West Point between 2013 and 2016 recorded 19 species, all of which are found on the red list of ‘Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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