Amid public opposition to a controversial fishing cooperation between the Government of Liberia and the Government of Senegal, the House of Representatives has given the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority or NaFAA approval to negotiate the deal.
The deal has raised more questions than answers about the future of Liberia’s fisheries and aquaculture, since news about it broke out few weeks ago.
The House Plenary mandates the Director General of NaFAA, Emma Glassco, to perform all due diligence concerning the protocol on the implementation of the agreement between Liberia and Senegal thus, endorsing report by its committees on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Investment and Concessions. Plenary had instructed the joint committee to look into the matter.
In its report Tuesday before full Plenary, the committee notes that the proposed deal titled, “Protocol on the implementation of the Agreement of Fisheries and Aquaculture Cooperation between the Government of Liberia and the Government of Senegal”, is a bilateral agreement not yet signed by both governments.
The report reveals that the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of
Finance and Development Planning of Liberia have not yet signed the agreement to become a legal and binding instrument.
The Committee stresses that any Senegalese business interested in fishing in Liberian waters must meet the preconditions and all criteria set for licenses under the laws of Liberia.
The lawmakers note that the protocol on the agreement is still at its embryonic stage and needs to reach its maturity to meet their involvement.
Committee Chairman Representative Prince O. S. Tokpah, says the
document has not reached the stage of agreement for them to question it, adding that the Executive has right to look for investors and they as lawmakers have right to ratify concessions.
Speaker Bhofal Chambers agrees, saying the Executive dose the negotiation, after which it goes to the Legislature for approval, so they have no intention to do the work of the Executive.
Liberians are generally apprehensive about the deal that would allow 300 Senegalese vessels, including 200 semi-industrial and 100 artisan canoes to fish in Liberia’s waters.
The protocol states that vessels under the agreement will fish “in-demand” shrimp and tuna in spite dangers associated with such practices to marine ecosystem.
Both countries will work to promote cooperation in the area of aquaculture through exchange of scientific information and techniques, organization of expert visits and producers, including conferences and training workshops and implementation of joint aquaculture project, among others.
By Bridgett Milton –Editing by Jonathan Browne