In the wake of protests by several members of the Liberian Seamen Union, the Director General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has clarified why the Government of Liberia has not licensed six Chinese fishing vessels currently at the Bong Mines Pier on Bushrod Island.
Director General Emma MetiehGlasscocited several technical issues associated with licensing the Chinese fishing vessels, which must be addressed adequately before their registration and subsequent license to fish in Liberian waters.
Madam Glassco: “The six gigantic vessels that came to Liberia have larger fishing capacities and such vessels have never come to Liberia to fish and worse, their authorization from the flag state which is the People’s Republic of China has expired”.
She said China as a flag state needs to issue those vessels authorization to enable them fish beyond China’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) or in distance waters.
She said Liberia, through NaFAA has not received any authorization from the flag state, except a transit document from Mozambique to Liberia, which expired since June 26, 2020.
She noted that under those circumstances, Liberia cannot issue licenses to those vessels when the flag state has not authorized the vessels to operate on distance waters, which will be a bridge of international protocols.
The NaFAAboss further explained now that Liberia is a member of the United Nations Port State Measures Agreement to deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, it also stands to be red carded as a non-compliance country if these giant trawlers were licensed without proper due diligence.
Mrs. Glasscodisclosed that Liberia is currently nursing a yellow card issued by the European Union and all efforts are being put in place to lift the yellow card which the country suffered as a result of illegal fishing activities during the former regime.
She noted that most of the vessels currently operating in Liberian waters are not entering European Union ports due to the yellow card issue, adding, that the yellow card placed on Liberia is directly affecting the fisheries and Maritime Authorities, which is having negative effects on the Liberian economy.
On July 30 and 31, 2020, aggrieved members of the Liberian Seamen Union stormed offices of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority on Bushrod Island, demanding the authorities to license six Chinese Supertrawlers to enable them have job opportunities.
The angry protesters, who prevented NaFAA staff of entering their offices on Friday, July 31, 2020, alleged that NaFAA has decided to deny the six vessels permit to operate in Liberian waters, which could dampen their (seamen) employment hope.
According to them, after obtaining international certified training from the Regional Maritime University facilitated by the Government of Liberia through NaFAA, they have been denied opportunities to board European and other international tuna vessels fishing across the world.