LIBERIA – The Government of Liberia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to strengthen research in the fisheries sector.

The partnership will focus on fisheries independent stock assessment using a fisheries research vessel named Dr. Firdtjof Nansen, to enhance small-scale fisheries and capacity building.

The MoU, signed by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) on behalf of the Liberian Government, will also support the application of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management considering the climate and pollution impacts.

Fisheries stock assessments are key to fisheries management. They examine the effects of fishing and other factors to describe the status of a fish stock and inform on how a fish stock will respond to current and future management measures.

NaFAA Director General, Mrs. Emma Metieh Glassco said that the agreement presents huge economic prospects for the country.

Mrs. Glassco assured that the collaboration between NaFAA and FAO will enable the country to have access to current fisheries data from the fish stock assessments, which have not been available for several decades.

She noted that with the availability of the data from, authorities of NaFAA will use be able to use the information gathered in operating fisheries programs that have not been operational.

The director said lack of data has been a major hinderance to NaFAA in issuing other fisheries licenses

According to her, Liberia has six fisheries, with the large pelagic and deep water demersal open to industrial vessels, and the four not open to industrial vessels, “because there is no data to make informed decisions.”

“We have not been able to give out any fish license for those fisheries, because we do not have any recent statistics on the status of the fish stocks so that whole fish regime has not been operated for a very long time,” Madam Glassco said.

Mrs. Glassco said that information gather from the assessment will inform NaFAA’s management on how to develop a fish quota management plan, which will also be used for fish licensing program to give vessels certain quota to fish in Liberian waters.

FAO Country Representative, Mariatou Njie, said that collaboration between NaFAA and the FAO will enable Liberia, through the local fisheries authority, to increase economic benefits from fisheries sector.

She said the agreement was also reached among the seven countries in the Gulf of Guinea, including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

According to a report by the Daily Observer, Fisheries in Liberia contribute significantly to the national economy and accounts for an estimated 40,000 people employed directly or indirectly in the sector.

More than 50% of protein requirements in the Liberian diet comes from fish.