Massive clamp-down on illegal fishing in Sierra Leone
Sep 19, 2012

Massive clamp-down on illegal fishing in Sierra Leone

By EJF Staff

Earlier this year, the Sierra Leone Government Fisheries Officer and members of the Republic of Sierra Leone armed forces maritime wing arrested Marampa 803 following a three-month surveillance investigation by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) and EJF.

Since October 2011, three foreign-owned bottom trawlers have been documented fishing illegally in the Inshore Exclusion Zone (IEZ) and pursued by MFMR. Fines of over US $300,000 have already been collected by the Government of Sierra Leone, and more are expected to be levied in the coming weeks. A further fine of US $1m has been levied on a canoe-support vessel. Active investigations continue into the actions of three other vessels.

Taken together, this represents an unprecedented crackdown on illegal fishing by the Government, demonstrating the commitment of the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Soccoh Kabia, to end pirate fishing in Sierra Leone.

“Over the past few months, we have witnessed significant progress in fisheries enforcement in Sierra Leone. A new EJF vessel has been able to produce a large amount of evidence since the end of October 2011, and this has been acted on by our partners in the Government. If this pressure is maintained on international trawlers operating illegally in Sierra Leone, we are confident that the profit can be taken out of pirate fishing. It is important that Sierra Leone’s regional and global partners build on this success. By creating far greater transparency in all aspects of the global industrial fishing fleet it will be possible for management authorities, retailers and consumers to understand where their seafood came from, allowing them to avoid illegally caught fish.” Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF

In 2011, EJF provided evidence that led European authorities to seize £4m worth of fish in the Spanish port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This catch has subsequently been released by Spanish authorities, allegedly in breach of European law.