New fisheries regulations, which meet international standards and protect the ecosystem, have been approved by the Liberian Government. The new regulations, under the signature and seal of the Minster of Agriculture Florence Chenoweth, repeal the Revised Fishing Rules and Regulations of 1973.
According to a release issued in Monrovia it empowers inspectors and observers of the Bureau of National Fisheries to stop, board, enter, search and stay on board any vessel without warrant in Liberian fisheries waters or outside if the inspector has a reason to believe that the vessel is being used for fishing or related activities.
The regulations state that license fee for an industrial fishing vessel shall constitute 10 % of the vessel value of the catch and by catch taken during the entire licensing period.
Under the new regulations, the inshore exclusion zone, which was previously three nautical miles, has been extended to six nautical miles and reserved solely for the use of subsistence, artisanal and semi industrial fishing activities. Artisanal and semi industrial vessels are all less than 90 ft in length.
The new regulations, which took effect November 24 2010, prohibits the use of fishing gears that have not been authorized by a valid and applicable license issued for the purpose of fishing.
Also prohibited by the new regulations is the use of harmful fishing practices such as explosives, poison, beach seine, monofilament nets, and nets that are less than 50 millimeters in stretched diagonal length. All these practices are extremely harmful to the habitat and cause depletion of the fish stock.
According to Dr. Lawrence Issah Braimah, Coordinator of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP), Liberia is an island amongst countries which fish stock has already been depleted, such as Ghana and Sierra Leone — failure to stop overfishing and harmful practices would cause Liberia to join the list of its unfortunate neighbors.
The regulations prescribe penalties for persons who contravene any section of the regulations. They range up to 1 million United States Dollars, added to detention, ban and confiscation of said fishing vessel and gear.
Under the new regulations the Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF) has the primary responsibility for enforcement. A monitoring, control and surveillance Center is being set-up to include vessel satellite monitoring, as well as sea and air patrols.
The Bureau is charged with the mandate to coordinate its functions and responsibilities with relevant government ministries and agencies. To that effect an MOU has been signed with the Liberian Coast Guard, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Liberia National Police, Ministry of Justice and the Bureau of Immigrations and Naturalization (BIN).
The initiative to improve the governance, control and economic impact of fisheries in Liberia is coordinated by the WARFP, a 14 million United States Dollar project financed by the World Bank and Global Environment Facility Fund.