In an effort to determine the country’s fish biomass and distribution and seasonal variations for better conservation and sustainable management of its fisheries resources, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine has in collaboration with the Chinese government on Monday,9th September, 2019, launched the country’s first Fish Stock Assessment Vessel at the Queen Elizabeth, Cline Town, Freetown.
The High Table
The Fish Stock research vessel dubbed, Zhong Yuke 212 is the first to arrive in Sierra Leone after decades with a team of Chinese Scientific Researchers to conduct a survey on the country’s fish stock, seasonal variations, distribution and estimate size in collaboration with a team of Marine Biologists from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Institute of Marine Biology.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in 2018, signed two MoUs with the Chinese government for the construction of a Fish Harbour and Fish Stock Assessment Survey in the country to be funded by the Chinese Aid Project.
The Fish Stock Scientific Research Vessel, Zhong Yuke 212
The team is expected to collect data which will be compiled in both English and Chinese languages and present a comprehensive report on their findings after a period of three years. Formally launching the Vessel, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie, who represented the Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, said, the exercise which will be based on the scientific a process of collecting, assessing and reporting specific demographic information and evaluation, is aimed at promoting development that would contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
He said the initiative will also re-position the fisheries sector to ensure positive growth, noting that government has prioritised the effective management of the sector to enable it serve as a catalyst for wealth creation and poverty reduction. “One of the ministry’s aim is to undertake a comprehensive fish stock assessment exercise to enable it elicit vital information for the exploitation of the country’s fisheries resources for prudent decision making at management level” he assured.
Hon. Yokie Cutting the Tape to Launch Fish Stock Scientific Vessel
Hon. Yokie disclosed that the fisheries sector contributes over ten per cent to the Gross Domestic Products and provides 80% of animal protein as well as employment for over 500,000 people across the country, adding that results of the survey will serve as a policy guide that would create effective fisheries management.
The Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wu Peng said the main purpose of the survey is to help Sierra Leone ascertain the composition and distribution of its fisheries resources to ensure efficient and effective management of its resources.
He described the Vessel as a “World class scientific vessel”, adding that the survey is a clear manifestation of the existing cordial bi-lateral cooperation between the two countries. He affirmed that over the years, the two countries had made tremendous strides in the areas of health, education, infrastructure among others, pointing out that Chinese Fishing Companies have contributed immensely to the country’s economy.
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara who chaired the programme said the fishing sector has seen an increase in revenue generation from 70.9 Billion Leones in 2017 to 94.59 Billion Leones in 2018. Most important, the Deputy Minister said, is “the fact that the sector has provided jobs for over half a million Sierra Leoneans”.
She intimated that the State-of the art Scientific Vessel will work in the country’s territorial waters for four months each year and conduct two research activities every year covering both the raining and dry season.
The Director of Fisheries, Madam, Kahdijatu Jalloh, underscored the importance of the survey and intimated the audience that a Norwegian Research Vessel is currently conducting a fish assessment survey in the sub-region. She thanked development partners especially, China, FAO and World Bank for contributing to the realisation of their dream.