The Marine fisheries play an important role in the economy of Sierra Leone, supporting livelihoods and contributing significantly to food security. The performance of fisheries were impacted by the ten year civil war, an event which contributed to the country’s reputation for being a “failed state”. Artisanal fisheries or small- scale fisheries as a result of low technology and inefficient human capital still remains a challenge for the sector, as those involve only make short fishing trips very close to the shores. This reduces the productive capacity of the fleet.
Welcoming a team senior members from the Embassy of Sierra Leone in the People’s Republic of China, headed by the Ambassador Ernest Nbaimba Ndomahina and his Deputy Ambassador Saffa- Woya Rogers, Head of East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences Professor Zhuang Ping said they feel honored to host the delegation. He said he has his first visit to Africa on the invitations of the Animal Resource Bureau of the African Union where he visited Kenya, Uganda and South Africa and also had a conducted tour on the fisheries resources at Lake Victoria.
According to Professor Ping, East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute is one of the national comprehensive fishery research organizations faced to three sea areas such as the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea; it is mainly devoted to fishery research activities for the East China Sea and Estuarine of Yangtze River. The institute he said has being in existence since 1958, and has become one of the three Comprehensive National fisheries research institute in China.
The institute he furthered plays host to about three hundred workers, amongst whom 150 are scientific research members, in which it has 15 researchers, 40 associated researchers, one mentor for student for doctor’s degree, 19 mentors for student for master’s degree, one person nominated as a candidate of “National Thousands of Experts Project in the New Century”, 3 premier scientists appointed by Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, 4 persons nominated as “young expert with extraordinary achievements” by the Ministry of Agriculture and 32 experts who enjoyed the special allowance of government.
‘Our expected visits to Sierra Leone we hope will strengthen further corporations between China and not only Sierra Leone, but West Africa’, Professor Ping said. The institute, he re-echoed has nine research divisions, including fisheries resources, package product inspection, fishing and Marine Engineering, fishery environment, genetic breeding biology among other areas. The institute could also boast of utilizing other national scientific platforms, including some key laboratories and field observation stations.
The institute has over the past 50 years made a great contribution to the development of fishery sciences in China in the research fields such as exploitation, utilization and management of fishery resources, fisheries environment and assessment, fishing technique and fishery engineering, aquatic products processing and quality safety, aquaculture and enhancement, fishery remote sensing and fishery biological technology.
Moreover, the institute he noted has more than 200 research achievements, and have been successively awarded prizes at different levels of the country. Sixteen (16) of its staff have been awarded prizes of the national scientific and technological progress, and 92 others have been awarded prizes of scientific and technological progress at levels of Ministry and Province across the People’s Republic of China.
Our economic journals are not only sold with the length and breadth of China, but also across other countries, he said, committing the institution’s willingness towards having a brother corporation in fisheries resources, aquatic products processing and aquaculture in the future between the institute and Sierra Leone cordial.
‘We are willing a ready to support Sierra Leone, provided the conditions between the countries are meet’ he commits, pinpointing their Laboratory of Fishery Resources firm grips to mainly undertakes research tasks such as investigation and monitoring of fishery resources, fishery ecology and mechanism of resource alteration, stock biomass, assessment of allowable catch and quota, enhancement of fishery resource and its effect assessment and exploitation of fishery resources in the distant waters, among other things.
In his brief on purpose for a visit to East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Shanghai Ambassador Ernest Nbaimba Ndomahina said they want to see what the institute represent in China. He informed the institute of the over forty-eight year friendship that has existed between Sierra Leone and China, and thereby strengthening the relationship the more is pivotal.
He said China is a trusted friend of Sierra Leone, ensuring them of the trust and confident that Sierra Leone depends on China for the revitalization its fisheries potential. The policy challenges now facing Sierra Leone, particularly the prevention of resource looting through illegal fishing of the offshore stocks and the development of strategies to enable the potential wealth of these fisheries to be captured
He recalled the Visit of President Julius Maada Bio to General Secretary Xi Jinping in China, when President Xi Jinping offered Sierra Leone some resources that the government is presently utilizing to reposition the fishing sector that Sierra Leonean’s well appreciated; as it aims to develop and increase fishing produce from Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Ndomahina noted that the Marine resources are Sierra Leone’s lesser known sources of untapped wealth that has the potentials to become the country’s second largest for export after minerals. Sierra Leone is well-equipped with the available stock of fish and high value exportable fishes that includes but not limited to snapper, hearings, cartfish, tuners, lobster, shrimps among other fishers.
Sierra Leone has an estimate stock value of Seven Hundred and Fifty Million dollars annually ($750,000,000), he said, noting that only a fraction of that amount is been realized currently. Significant stock of fish based on biomass figures were compared to maximum sustainable growth.
Sierra Leone, he stressed, is political and economically stable; a country with diverse potentials has become ever more attractive to international investors. “It is empirically one of Africa’s best business reformers with the toughest anti-corruption laws in the continent”, he added, with its population of over 7.1 million people.
Amidst strides by the present government to ensure a transformation in that Marine and Fisheries sector, the challenges faced by this sector are quite enormous and compounded. The sector is tortured with poor fisheries governance and management regimes, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, over fishing, indiscriminate cutting down of coastal mangrove vegetation, inadequate policies, regulations and overfishing of the commercially exploited stock still stands empirical on the fishing operations in Sierra Leone. Unavailability of well-equipped fishing boat, processing equipment and facilities, transportation, and more so, the expertise of the Chinese ever more needed, as to explore the possibilities of increasing the fishing capacities in the country.