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NaFAA arrests illegal foreign fishermen in Maryland

By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County

Residents along Liberia’s coastal areas have repeatedly complained of the illegal activities of foreign fishermen in Liberian waters, prompting a recent joint security response that led to some arrests.

Monrovia, Liberia, March 11, 2024: Through the help of joint security forces, the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has arrested eight migrant fishermen on the seashore of Harper, Maryland County, for allegedly fishing on Liberian waters.

The suspects were arrested on 5 March 2024 in an operation led by NaFAA Associate Director for Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture Mr. Anthony A. Yokie and the joint security.

Speaking following the arrests, Director Yokie said local fishermen in Harper informed NaFAA about the migrants.

He said the locals alleged each time they went on the seas for fishing, they were embarrassed by illegal fishermen believed to be foreign nationals.

Following the complaint, Mr. Yokie said NaFAA and the joint security were accompanied by Harper local fishermen around the Cavalla-Karblaken border where the eight foreign fishermen from San-Pedro were flying both Liberian, Ghanaian, and Ivorian flags without legal documents.

He placed the cash value of the confiscated fish at sixty thousand Liberian Dollars. 

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The NaFAA director disclosed that their mission in the southeast is to ensure compliance with the fishery sector and sustainable management of the marine environment law.

He indicated that before they arrived in the county, they received lots of complaints concerning the invasion of the ocean by foreign fishermen from different countries.

“So when we came to Maryland we met with the task force team and the entire Kru and Fanti Fishing Community and they have complained several times,” said Mr. Yokie.

“So based on their complaint, we have asked the task force team being set up by the Director-General to have gone ahead with the arrest,” Mr. Yokie continued.

He detailed that they provided backup and support from the joint security for the arrest of the vessel that came from the Ivorian City of San Pedro with the illegal fishermen.

He explained that the fishermen comprised both Ghanaian and Ivorian citizens residing in San Pedro.

He noted that the suspects were killing marine species in the Liberian waters without any legal documents with a 40-horse-power machine.

He disclosed that arrested foreign fishermen were in the custody of the Liberia Immigration officers and would be penalized for illegal fishing and violating the Liberia fishery law.

Director Yokie maintained that the Liberian Maritime law states that any illegal fish that is confiscated shall be auctioned and the money generated be deposited in government revenue. 

He stressed that though there are several challenges faced in combating illegal fishing in the Liberian waters, NaFAA is committed to safeguarding the aquatic species of the country.

The arrests seemed dramatic because several residents of Harper, including fishermen, were seen in their jubilant mood to have witnessed the eight foreign fishermen being apprehended by NaFAA.

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