Liberia’s food security at risk from industrial fishing

Liberia's coastline The Liberian Government plans to halve its Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ) from six nautical miles to three

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has warned the Liberian Government that it risks undermining the country’s food security if it continues with its plan to allow industrial vessels greater access to fish in its waters.

The Liberian Government plans to halve its Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ), currently reserved for artisanal fishermen, reducing it from six nautical miles to three. This will allow foreign industrial vessels, including trawlers, to fish much closer to the shore

EJF executive director, Steve Trent, said: “By removing the six nautical mile limit, the Liberian government is favouring short-term economic interests over the needs of its people. The limit underpins the sustainability of the fisheries that provide vital food, livelihoods and incomes for hundreds of thousands of Liberians.

EJF, which is urging the Liberian Government to reconsider its IEZ proposal, stressed that that as most foreign catch is exported overseas, there would likely be a significant reduction in the levels of fish being supplied to Liberia, putting the livelihoods of an estimated 33,000 people at risk.

65% of Liberia’s animal protein comes from the fishing sector, while Liberia’s coastal waters are also a vital spawning and breeding ground for many species of fish, says EJF.

Allowing trawlers so close to the coast would endanger the region’s fragile marine ecosystems, the organisation pointed out, further compromising the long-term sustainability of fish stocks in Liberian waters.

The Community Management Association from Robertsport, representing artisanal fisherman in the region, commented: “Since its introduction, the zone has helped local fishers see a huge increase in fish catch, and in our incomes.”

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