Stressing the importance of their duties and the challenges, the Deputy Minister admonished them to refrain from activities that would undermine the ministry’s overall policy goal of protecting and conserving the country’s vital resource for sustainable development, food security and poverty alleviation in the country. Expressing government’s continued commitment to addressing the aforementioned challenges, Mr. Charles Rogers said his ministry will work hand in hand with fishing companies to reduce the interface and loyalty between the latter and Observers by stopping the direct payment of allowances to observers. In addition to that, he said his ministry will source support for additional training for Observers and work with the Human Resource Management to secure permanent employment for Observers. The Deputy Minister also disclosed that in an effort to further address deficiencies plaguing the sector, a draft Fisheries Bill and Fisheries Regulations has been laid before parliament for approval , adding that Government has also provided funds for running of the Sorie Ibrahim Patrol Boat patrol; complete overhauling of the Joint Maritime Committee (JMC) with State of the art equipment and a dedicated fiber optic internet line for effective remote monitoring of fishing vessels and the country’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone. The potential of the sector, he said can only be enhanced through good governance for sustainable fisheries management, combating of illegal fishing and Value addition to fish and fishery products and described the ceremony as a demonstration of the ministry’s commitment to ensuring sustainable fisheries management to cover not only the challenges they face in managing fisheries observers, but also opportunities that would help them move forward in an open , constructive and effective way for the benefit of the country. In his statement, the Director of Fisheries, Mohamed Bushura Cole, expressed appreciation for the initiative, saying it is a clear demonstration of the Observers’ determination to address their welfare. He underscored the ministry’s unflinching commitment to provide an enabling environment and attractive conditions of service for Fisheries Observers. He described the role of Observers as important and urged them to always provide the ministry with quality and reliable data for the overall development of the sector. The Permanent of the ministry, Mariatu Koroma who chaired the programme admonished the organisers to be patriot and God faring while discharging their duties and assured them of management support. The President of the Sierra Leone Industrial Fisheries Association, Bassem Mohamed commended the organizers for the “bold initiative” and pledged his organisation’s continued support to promoting the country’s fisheries sector. Giving a brief historical sketch of the Observer /V.S.O. programme, Head of Fisheries Protection Unit, Victor Kargbo said harvesting of fish started in 1950s by Italians and Greeks with no better regulations until 1998 when Government thought it necessary to regulate the sector. He said frantic have been made by government to regularize the Obverser programme before the introduction of the Trust Fund and expressed optimism that the objective of the fund would be realsied. A representative of the organization, Solomon Jusu, said the idea of launching the Trust Fund was born out of the desire to promote their welfare amidst plethora of challenges facing them. Outlined some of their responsibilities including data collecting and determination of fish aggregates and noted some of their challenges,not least, poor conditions of service and attacks by pirates. Mr. Jusu disclosed that following the creation of the Trust Fund, they have been able to raise over Thirty Million Leones and appealed to management of the fisheries ministry to ensure that they are absorbed into the civil service. The Secretary General of the Organisation, Denis Beinda thanked Government and all those who in diverse ways helped in making the programme a success. He described the occasion as dream come true, saying, in the past it has been difficult for them to distinguish between their employers and fishing owners and called for a system that would prevent conflict of interest in the discharge of their duties.