West Africa is endowed with valuable and shared natural resources in the form of marine fish stocks but is currently providing the region including Liberia with far lower economic and social returns. This is as a result of overexploitation and subsequent depletion of the resources by both legal and illegal operators. Much of the returns that the resources currently provide accrue mostly to foreign countries and fleets because much of the fish caught in West Africa including Liberia’s waters is not landed in West Africa but taken to foreign ports where further value is added and more jobs are created.
Liberia is no exception to the problems faced by other West African countries in managing their marine stocks. Poor and efficient fisheries management systems in Liberia have provided high risks for fish stock depletion and low income in revenue to Government. To respond to these malice and bring sanity to the overall management of marine resources, the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project(WARFP) was developed with the support of the World Bank, Global Environment Facility and African Catalytic Growth to sustainably increase the wealth generated by the exploitation of Liberia’s marine fish resources and the portion of that wealth captured in the local economy.
An Adaptive Program Loan(APL) of US$200 million was approved for the implementation of the WARFP in nine West African Countries(Mauritania to Ghana) for a ten-year period out of which Liberia was granted US$12 for the implementation of WARFP for the first five years. An additional 2 million from the Africa Catalytic Growth was approved for the WARFP in Liberia to support the rehabilitation of the erstwhile Mesurado Fishing Pier.
The project in Liberia aims to strengthen the capacity of Liberia to govern and manage targeted fisheries, reduce illegal fishing and increase local value added to fish products. It commenced in April 2010 and is divided into four components as follows:
The main activity under this sub-component is the introduction of fishing rights through a system of co-management. The project will finance the creation of 1 to 2 pilot Territorial Use Rights Fisheries(TURFS) in the coastal fisheries, to begin in Robertsport, Grand Capemount County and later extended to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The TURFS will be managed by co-management association(CMA) which will be established and operationalized. In addition, support will be given to the construction of CMA community fisheries centers(CFCs) in 4 communities and be provided with needed furnishings and equipment. Capacity building trainings on basic management skills, consultation and representation skills and conflict resolution will be provided including on micro-business management, new fishing methods and business models.
Under this sub-component, the project will finance the development of a Social Marketing and Communications strategy plan and an associated implementation plan to support the dissemination of information on the introduction of fishing rights, fisheries regulations and community co-management initiatives.
This component seeks to reduce illegal fishing activities threatening the sustainable management of marine fish resources and the wealth they can generate. More specifically, it will improve the fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance(MCS) system of Liberia and adapt it to the needs of fisheries management, within the framework of a coordinated approach between countries of the sub-region. The following sub-component will be supported:
The major activity is implementing sustainable surveillance systems which will include development of a national MCS plan and strategy and establishment of fisheries surveillance capacity(including monitoring centers and stations, and satellite-based vessel monitoring systems). A patrol capacity in the air and at sea will be developed in the medium term through financing a private service for sea and aerial patrol while national equipment is procured and local staff are trained.
The objective is to increase the benefits to Liberia from marine fish resources by increasing the share of the value-added captured in its waters. Its sub-components are as follow:
An integrated fish landing site cluster will be established in conjunction with the TURF at Robertsport to have basic infrastructure such as jetty around the lake, an elevated water tank, repairs of existing water pipe, the installation of a water pipe to the Fanti communities, the installation of a solar-powered pump and the extension of solar street lighting. The project will also support the construction of a hygiene block and septic tank, an ice plant, cold stores, the gradual development of dry-docking industry, the set-up of common service centers and the provision of extension services such as fishery material store, the provision of fuel and gas, net and crates repair, training in the maintenance of the cold chains, etc.
The main activity is the provision of quality, standards, metrology and testing infrastructure and technical assistance. In this regard, the project will established a certified public laboratory and competent sanitary authority in Liberia as well as the development of relevant protocols and standards for quality and traceability, including training.
The project will be managed through Fisheries Management Office in the Bureau of National Fisheries(BNF), staffed by external and local project management specialists. Regional activities will also be undertaken by the project for which coordination will be by the Regional Coordination Unit. Since its inception, significant progress has been made in all of the four components of the project thereby bringing sanity to the fisheries management system in Liberia. The progress can be catalogued under each component as follows: