Liberia: Fisheries US$40m financing agreement passes into law

Flashback: World Bank Country Manager and Finance Minister displaying the signed document as NaFAA DG Joyously looks on after the signing ceremony

-As DG Glassco says Liberian fisheries sector is on the path of massive growth

Monrovia – All is now set for the commencement of speedy growth within the Liberian Fisheries sector which has a huge potential to exponentially contribute to the economic growth of Liberia thus contributing hugely to the national budget in the tone of millions if properly managed could climb in the billions.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill including the Senators and representatives of both Housesrecentlyendorsed the “Financing Agreement of the (Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries Project) between the Republic of Liberia and the International Development Association (IDA).  It was published into law on December 17, 2021, by the Authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Liberia.

The World Bank US$40 Million fisheries financing agreement which is aimed at improving fisheries management and enhancing livelihood and income for government and targeted beneficiaries, will among other things lead to the expansion and industrialization of the Mesurado fishing pier where larger fishing vessels could birth and land their catches. It can be recalled that the Mesurado fishing pier was constructed decades ago.

At the same time, the gains to be reaped from this project remain immense ranging from the creation of job opportunities for the ordinary Liberian through the establishment of fish processing facilities, cold storage to the overwhelming increment in revenue generation by the national government.

Moreover, these and other benefits are expected to come from the full implementation of the World Bank US40 fisheries project within five counties including Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Rivercess, and Grand Kru and also the agreement seeks to in total bring about an overall reform within the fisheries sector that was never prioritized by former governments as being given urgent attention by the CDC-led government.

The action by the lawmakers of both houses now sets the stage for the full commencement of the World Bank US$40Million Financing Agreement for the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries Project which also seeks to increase high employment particularly within fishing communities in Liberia.

Aside from transforming the Mesurado fishing pier into an industrial fishing pier, other landing jetties would be constructed within fishing communities, such as Popo beach in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, and Maryland Counties respectively.

Those jetties when constructed would afford fishermen the opportunities to land their fish and fish products at particular landing sites where fish markets will be available at which time fishmongers/fish sellers will purchase, process, and sell their fish products to consumers, fishermen would do repair works on their machines, canoes, nets and other fishing implements, and purchase other implements on the spot and before heading home or to sea.

It can be recalled on October 19, 2021, the government of Liberia through Finance Minister Hon. Samuel Tweah and the Director-General of NaFAA Hon. Emma Metieh Glassco officially signed a financing agreement for the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project worth US$40 Million aimed at improving fisheries management and enhancing livelihood and income for government and targeted beneficiaries.

Speaking during the official signing ceremony the Director-General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority among other things mentioned that the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project will lead to the expansion of the Mesurado fishing pier which was constructed decades ago.

Hon Emma Metieh Glassco disclosed during the ceremony that upon the completion of the Mesurado Pier into an industrial port it would allow more than 77 industrial fishing vessels to land their catches. Additionally, she emphasized that the gains be reaped from this project remain immense ranging from the creation of job opportunities for the ordinary Liberian through the establishment of fish processing facilities, cold storage to the overwhelming increment in revenue generation by the national government.

“All of the catches from those industrial vessels are landed into neighboring countries and as such those countries domestic markets are supplied with huge quantities of fish and fish products thus denying Liberian population in need of fish supply”, she asserted.

Commenting further Hon. Glassco who was upbeat about such World Bank support explained that upon the inception of NaFAA she had urged President George Manneh Weah and the Finance minister Samuel Tweh to make fisheries a top priority because of the potential the sector has to transform the Liberian economy.

At the same time, Hon Glassco noted that Liberia is losing 50% of revenue to other countries due to the lack of industrial ports so now is the time that Liberia reclaims all of those losses after the construction of the industrial port at the Mesurado pier on Bushrod Island.

She indicated that in the absence of the industrial port, “Liberia as a coastal state is currently importing 60 million worth of fish and fish products per annual which is about 28,000 metric tons which according to her is not good news because of Liberia status as a coastal state:” Madam Glassco mentioned that despite been a coastal state Liberia lacks the ability to adequately supply the population with the needed supply of fish.

She recalled that several studies were done by Liberian fisheries technicians at NaFAA to verify that all of the claims such as the loss of revenue, lack of ability to supply protein to the population among other things have resulted in this historic signing ceremony.

Hon. Glassco said the three times expansion of the Mesurado Pier will lead to the creation of huge job opportunities for Liberia and Liberians, provide a huge supply of fish on Liberian markets at a cheaper rate, reduce the net importation of fish, and part of the money will provide landing sites for the local fishermen.

She stressed “landing and cold storage facilities are serious challenges facing the Liberian fisheries sector. These are issues that make the fisheries sector look dormant.

Madam Glassco said, “under President George Weah Administration the fishing activities will be transformed as they would not be pulling their canoes with much physical strength, they will be going to sea with ice, upon return from fishing they would land their catches at the designated landing sites that will be constructed with the World Bank financial support”.

Also making remarks at the signing ceremony, World Bank Country Manager Dr. KhwimaNthara assured that the project will support the needed interventions across the whole value chain, such as investments in new alternative vessels and fishing gears for getting the fish from the sea; modern landing fishing harbor at the Mesurado pier in Monrovia.

Dr. Khwinma also added that under the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project there would be the “construction of access roads, services, and market halls so that the fish is easily marketed”.

For his part, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah declared that the Liberian economy is moving towards the fisheries sector with the huge support of the World Bank financial support through the Liberia Sustainable Management of Fisheries project.

Minister Tweah said with the signing of the World Bank financing agreement Liberian fishermen stand to immensely benefit as their livelihoods will drastically change and they would impart the economy from the huge catches during daily fishing initiatives. Courtesy: Lewis E.B Konoe

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