At the well-attended ceremony was the Deputy Minister of Information who happened to be the Chairperson of the ceremony, Mamadie Gobeh Kamara who said they wholeheartedly welcomed this development as it is a step in the right direction as a government that cares for the welfare of its citizens. She said this study will further raise the red flag that during the last 20 years the stock of fish has reduced due to biological and economic over-fishing and that the fishing industry is becoming unprofitable, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is costing the region an estimated 1.3 billion US dollars in lost revenue.
Representing the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Sadiq Sillah disclosed that during the three years the vessel will spend in Sierra Leone, it will conduct two surveys each year; one during the rains and one during the dries. A joint team of fisheries scientists from Sierra Leone and China will conduct the survey and report on the data collection and analysis which will be available in both English and Chinese languages.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sierra Leone His Excellency HU Zhangliang referred to fisheries as one of the major pillars of Sierra Leone’s economy and people’s lives. The sustainable and effective development of the fishing sector he said is of paramount importance to Sierra Leone. He added that the fisheries survey cooperation between the two countries further demonstrates China’s genuine interest in seeing Sierra Leone controlling and managing its own resources for the welfare of its people. He went on to say he believes the Sierra Leone side will provide all the needed support to the survey process.
The Minister of Mines who represented the Chief Minister and Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Foday Rado Yokie, commended the Ministry of Fisheries and the Chinese government, for the bold step to launch the fisheries survey for a comprehensive fish stock assessment jointly undertaken by the Sierra Leone and Chinese government for sustainable management and development of the fisheries resources in sierra Leone.
He said the overall objective of the survey is to determine the fish biomass for better conservation and distribution.
Other speakers and dignitaries present included the Ambassador of Sierra Leone to China, HE Ernest Ndomahina, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries, and the Minister of Lands among others who pledged their commitment to the process.