Reviving Liberia's Fifty-Kilo Fish Catch

Reviving Liberia's Fifty-Kilo Fish Catch

Reviving Liberia's Fifty-Kilo Fish Catch

By / Marine Ecosystem / Monday, 16 July 2018 23:59

The three drops of sweat on Trevor’s forehead soon became a flood that swept across his body. By the time he hauled his boat and body back to the landing beach Liberia’s capital in Monrovia, he was exhausted to the bone. But there wasn’t much to show for his sweat. Lying forlornly at the bottom of his boat were two medium-sized fish that weighed about four kilos. whatever he would earn from selling the two fish would be far below the approximately USD50 that he needed to top up his nine-year old daughter Elizabeth’s school fees.

What is happening to the Atlantic Ocean? Trevor wondered. Just a few years ago, I used to catch as much as fifty kilos daily. Now I am lucky to catch ten kilos.

Four experts from the University of British Columbia have an answer for Trevor. In a paper for the African Journal on Marine Sciences, they predicted that ‘climate change may lead to substantial reduction in marine fish production and decline in fish protein supply in this region by the 2050s.’ They further went on to state that ‘we project a 21% drop in annual landed value, 50% decline in fisheries-related jobs and a total annual loss of US$311 million in the whole economy of West Africa. These changes are expected to increase the vulnerability of the region through economics and food security of West Africa to climate change.’

Their views are echoed by the World Bank which however lays the blame of dwindling fish right on the doorstep of unsustainable fishing practices, ‘a decade ago, it was already clear that the era of bountiful fishing in West Africa’s waters was in steep decline. The fisheries sector no longer contributed as much to their national economies because of high levels of illegal fishing, often from foreign vessels, and declining fish stock, as well as a lack of management and infrastructure.’

It is therefore clear that the livelihoods of Trevor and Liberia’s 33,000 artisanal fishers are being ripped apart by both climate change and unsustainable fishing practices.

If nine-year old Elizabeth is to one day follow the footsteps of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, then her father must be helped to revive his fishing livelihood.

Author

DJ Bwakali

DJ Bwakali

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