Photograph — Vice.com

The Government of Liberia (GoL) through its Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the Government of Iceland signed a grant agreement of US$3.1 million on Friday, December 14, to support Liberia’s fishery sector.

This grant support is expected to improve and strengthen Liberia’s fishery sector, which has in time past faced major setbacks. The sector is on the path to unprecedented growth after it had remained underdeveloped in the last couple of years.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah said that the Liberian government is working to improve the living condition of her people and the country at large.

“We just launched our development plan and the major priority in that plan concerns agriculture and fishery because the agriculture space is where the majority of our people work.

“More than 70% of labor force is in agriculture, smallholders and some of the big fish reserved in the region. But the challenge is that the sector is undeveloped,” he said.

The project also offers a new future for over 2,000 fishermen and fishmongers in Liberia who perhaps need external funding to grow their businesses, by providing them with microfinance opportunities. Additionally, it will introduce improved fish processing and preservation using modern fish-oven technology

Liberia currently exports over 200 metric tons of fishery products annually. Despite that, the country still records substantial losses because these products cannot access markets in the USA and the EU. This is due to lack of a standardized testing laboratory for fish in Liberia, which is supposed to certify fish harvested within its waters and be accredited to have direct access to those Western markets.

To address this problem, the grant will fund the country’s first international standardized laboratory for certification of fish products, and other cold food for exports with the aim of doubling annual export.

According to National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority Director General, Emma Metieh-Glasco, the project is a major achievement that will develop the country’s first standardized laboratory for testing fish and other food products for exports.

Other benefits that the sector will experience from the project will be improved capacity training in fishery science and fishery management, sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for development, which is in line with goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to a statement from the Icelandic head of delegation, Dr. Pektur Skulason Wladorff, the implementation of the project will begin in January 2019.

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