The purpose of the meeting was to have consensus on the way forward to accelerate completion of the project and identify possible areas for collaboration with development partners germane to sustainability of the project following completion. Speaking at the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries, Charles Rogers said remarkable progress regarding the certification process has been made through the effort of his ministry and PRECON and other partners whilst assuring all that the country is at the point of meeting the prescribed EU benchmarks. He described the fisheries sector as driving force of the country’s economy and stressed the need for economic diversification. PRECON’s Country Director, Jeffrey Macarthy in his presentation, said the project is aimed at providing the necessary expertise that would help uplift the food safety factors in the country’s fishery supply chain, upgrading the country’s fish Products to enable it access EU markets thereby generating more revenue for economic development. Mr. Macarthy outlined a number of challenges facing the industry including an outdated and fragmented Food and Feed legislation and lack of standards to ensure food safety among others. In spite of these challenges, he said, some progress has been made and assured all of his organisaion’ s determination to ensure Sierra Leone access the EU markets. He expressed the hope that the short falls could be addressed through the capacity building and establishment of a general food and feed law, enforcement of hygiene regulations among others. He said phase one of the project has been completed and disclosed plans for 2017 which included the enactment of food law and establishment of a Food Safety Authority.
Representative of the EU, Thierry Cozier emphasised the need to improve on the quality of fish products and put measures in place that will ensure they are attractive. The Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Fisheries in parliament, Sahr Gengo, Minority Party Leader in parliament, Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minister of Trade Capt. Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe, Dandeson Thompson of Law Officer Department and other participants expressed enthusiasm and willingness to ensure the project is fully implemented. Chairman of the ceremony, Prof. Victor Strasser -King of the Strategy and Policy Unit at State House while referring to the fisheries sector as a “Saving grace”, entreated all stakeholders to do more so as to achieve the projects’ objectives.