Liberia Commissions Moroccan Research Vessel for Fish Stock Assessment in Liberia Waters

MONROVIA: The Government of Liberia through the National Fisheries & Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has commissioned the newly constructed state of the art fisheries research vessel AL HASSAN AL-MARRAKCHW to conduct the first post-war independent stock assessment within Liberia’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone to ascertain the commercial viability fish and other sea foods so as to inform national decision for future investments within the sector.

AL HASSAN AL MARRAKCHI is a Fishery Research Vessel with IMO no. 9867061 that was built in 2020 (4 years ago) and is sailing under the flag of Morocco. She has carrying capacity is 293 t DWT, a draught of 4.8 meters, a length of 48.5 meters and a width of 12 meters berthed at the Bong Mines pier of the Freeport of Monrovia on January 24, 2024 to conduct a stock assessment within the waters of Liberia.

The commissioning ceremony which took place on January 26, 2024 at the Bong Mines pier was graced by high-level dignitaries from the Government of Liberia, foreign governments as well as international and regional organizations. High-level officials in attendance included the Hon. Speaker of the 55th Legislature Fanoti Koffa, Her Honor. Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh of the Republic of Liberia. Representing the flagstate – The Kingdom of Morroco  was Hon. Mohammed Sidiki, (Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development ,Water & Forestry), from Cote D’Ivoire Hon.Toure (Minister of Fisheries & Animal Resources), and from Guinea Conakry 🇬🇳 Hon.  Charlotte Daffe, (Minister of Fisheries & Maritime Economy). Also in attendance were the heads of international and regional Fisheries Management bodies and  private partners.

Speaking at the ceremony to commission the vessel, Speaker Koffa admonished the government of Morocco for its generosity and pledge the support from the legislature under his leadership in developing laws to support the development of the Fisheries Industry of Liberia as well as ensuring the Liberia remains compliant with regional and international standards.

Meanwhile, Madam Glassco in her address stressed the significance of the stock assessment exercise to the improvement of the fisheries sector in Liberia which seeks to emulate the best practices of other fishing nations on the continent. According to Director General Glassco, the research project is part of a larger drive by Liberia to develop a sustainable fisheries sector. She further lamented on the fisheries research projects’ assess Liberia’s coastal marine habitats, conduct analysis of oceanographic and environmental factors that affect the country’s fisheries production, research on the dynamics of small pelagic fish species, and health surveillance of lucrative shellfish species.

Mr. Abdelouhed Bennabou, Secretary General of ALAFCO, said the commissioning of the research vessel to conduct a stock assessment is a first in ensuring a more balanced and sustainable marine resource management effort. He thanked the Government of Morocco for making the vessel available and further indicated that Liberia as a coastal nation possess immense fisheries resources which he believes is threatened by over exploitation and needs to be addressed with responsible implementation.

Mr. Shafik Hussien, Representative of the World Bank and Task Team Leader of the Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Management Project indicated that his organization has been working for several years with NaFAA in ensuring that this component of the project comes to fruition. He expressed his organization delight to see Liberia expressing its interest in science and data collection. He stated that “good science makes good policy” and only if one is able to measure; will they be able to make a good plan. He thanked the representatives of sisterly nations for their continuous cooperation in this effort and reminded them of the World Bank’s commitment towards future projects.

The European Union Ambassador & Representative thanked Liberia for being the first country to ask for this assistance and being the first nation to get it. She stressed how importance the exercise was to them especially in aiding the fight against IUU fishing in Liberia waters. She expressed her organization willingness to work with Liberia and receive positive results from the reports which will be a basis for Liberia to tap into European markets.

FAO country representative congratulated the government of Liberia and NaFAA for the vision to determine what Liberia’s fish stock is. She indicated that it was a bold step that more are still afraid to take on. She expressed her organization willingness to work with Liberia and other partners to ensure sustainable fish stocks for generation to come.

ECOWAS Ambassador Madame Josephine Nkrumah, expressed the regional body willingness to support such initiative which she asserts is embodied in ECOWAS’ plan. She indicated that the socio-economic and political significance of this is something that the South-South initiative embraces highly.

The event was followed by tour of the research vessel led by Madame Glassco who was accompanied by Liberian government officials, fisheries Ministers from foreign nations and other international delegates to have site view of the state of the art vessel and a firsthand glance at the existing berthing infrastructure at the Freeport of Monrovia which is currently challenged with poor sanitary conditions and other supporting equipment.

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