While referring to fisheries as one of President Bio’s main priorities, she said government is fully aware of the district’s enormous fisheries potential, adding that as a responsible government, they will do their utmost to ensure they are sustainably harnessed. As a demonstration of her ministry’s desire address their concerns and promote the policy of co- management in fisheries, Hon. Kowa Jalloh disclosed plans to assign additional staff to the fishing communities.
The Minister also took the opportunity to inform the fisher folk about plans by the ministry to embark on the registration of Artisanal Fishing boats with the aim of reckoning accurate data and information that would enable the ministry plan and implement activities that will have a positive impact on their lives. The minister who was earlier taken on a conducted tour of facilities of the ministry’s Fish Landing Site, informed her audience about plans to operate the facility through a Public Private Partnership arrangement to ensure they are in full working condition and the appointment of a National Master Fisherman to manage the affairs fisherfolk in the country. She entreated communities to always comply with the government’s policies and thanked them for the warm welcome awarded them. Deputy Minister of Fisheries, Ibrahim Turay in his contribution, emphasized the importance of the Artisanal Fisheries sector as one of the main contributors to the county’s food self- sufficiency drive.
The visit of a high powered delegation from the ministry was a manifestation of their desire to streamline the fisheries industry and promised to continue to engage the fisheries stakeholders. Welcoming the minister and entourage, the Mayor of Bonthe Municipality, Layemin Joe Sandi thanked the minister and entourage for braving the turbulent Sherbro River to the islands which he described as a once “thriving settlement” with multinational companies such as P.Z and C.F.A.O. The sustainability of the livelihood of fisher folk in the region after the withdrawal of their illegal fishing nets by the previous government, he said, has posed great challenges for them and appealed for the provision of standard fishing gears at affordable costs. He described the existing Fish Landing Facility in the municipality as deplorable and called on the government to speedily revive it. He thanked all stakeholders, especially the Sierra Leone Navy and ministry of fisheries for their collaboration in combating illegal fishing. At Mania Island,wehre the team with pomp and pageantry, Paramount Chief of Sittia Chiefdom, Thomas Koroma described the Island as a settlement with great touristic potential yet to be harnessed. He outlined a number of challenges they are facing including the encroachment of trawlers into the Inshore Exclusive Zones and destruction of their gears and lives of fishermen and called on government to take the necessary actions that would protect them. He spoke of the vital role played in the past by an International Non Governmental Organisation, Environmental Justice Foundation in the fight against illegal fishing and called for the revival of its project which he said helped to minimize illegal fishing, promote employment and alleviate poverty in the region.
Representing the Sierra Leone Armed Forces Navy, Capt. David Caulker said one of their responsibilities is to complement the effort of the ministry of fisheries and urged all to collaborate with them to help mitigate crime in the region. Community representatives, including Opinion Leaders who spoke on behalf of their compatriots heaped praise on the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources , Hon. Emma Kowa Jalloh for her unwavering commitment to ensuring that the district regains it past glory, especially in the area of fishing which serves as their major occupation, called for support to enable them engage in Semi Industrial Fishing so as to derive much benefit from their resources, provide jobs for youths and empower women through micro credit schemes, provide affordable fishing gears, and other social amenities such as schools, health centres with trained staff, roads and community centres. The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Haje Mariatu Koroma said she was impressed with the congenial atmosphere of the settlement and pledged government commitment to ensuring that the district harnesses its full potential. Fisheries Officer in charge of Bonthe District, Sahr Sandy, who chaired the meetings, described the visit as a very important and historic event and entreated fisheries stakeholders to grab the opportunity.