BUSHROD ISLAND, Montserrado – The Welsh government has donated a patrol vessel to the Liberian government to assist it in its fight against illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.
On Friday, May 10, President George Weah commissioned the vessel at Mesurado Pier on Bushrod Island.
Liberia loses US$75 million annually to illegal fishing, according to a 2017 paper. The impact can be far-reaching, in terms of the loss of revenues to artisanal fishermen and damage to fisheries resources.
The Welsh government’s donation is meant to boost the country’s capacity to defend its coast. The patrol vessel was previously called the ‘Pride of Wales,’ but it was renamed on Friday.
During the commissioning ceremony, the president said it was an honor for him to be invited to the occasion to rename the fisheries patrol vessel ‘MPV Lonestar.’
The boat is expected to be jointly operated by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority and the Coast Guard.
“The vessel will add to the existing Coast Guard fleet and enhance its seagoing capacity to ensure the protection of the country marine sources and coastal security,” Weah said.
According to the president, the boat comes at the time when Liberia is working hard to reduce incidents of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing in its waters.
He added, “The vessel will thereby increase the attainment of economic dividend from Liberia’s fishery resources.”
The president thanked the World Bank Group for their support in securing the gift, particularly in arranging to ship the vessel to Liberia.
“We are also pleased with the level of coordination from our donors and bilateral partners for their continuous support to the sustainable management of the fishery sector and ensuring the security for the country’s costal marine resources,” Weah noted.
The president assured the country’s international partners, particularly the Government of Wales and the United Kingdom that the government would utilize the vessel to effectively monitor the country’s coastline.
David Belgrove, the British ambassador to Liberia, said he was delighted to form part of the vessel commissioning ceremony. He said the donation was made through the Wales for Africa program, a Welsh government initiative.
“The donation reflects Wales’ sense of duty as an international citizen and the Welsh government’s legal duties under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, a ground-breaking piece of legislation which commits Wales to help deliver the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
He explained that the vessel has a vital role to play in the Liberian government plans to protect the country’s valuable fish stocks stressing “Liberia has one of the best fish stocks in the region.”
For his part, Tibli Olandrus Dickson, the deputy defense minister for administration and now the acting minister, said the Liberian government has been working actively with international partners in the fight against illegal fishing.
“We can ensure our international partners that the Liberian Coast Guard and Defense Ministry is ready and will cooperate with NaFAA [the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority] to use the vessel to enhance our IUU enforcement operation to ensure that IUU violators are and marine resources are protected,” he assured.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority’s Emma Metieh Glassco, who is director general of the agency, said Liberia had been losing significant revenues from illegal fishing activities, especially around Maryland, Sinoe, River Cess, Grand Kru, and Grand Bassa.
“With the latest timely and generous donation of the fisheries patrol vessel by the Welsh government of the United Kingdom, Liberia is now in the position to increase its coastal resource security, thus resulting to increased revenue from the fisheries sector,” Glassco said.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah