Was Sierra Leone’s One-month Fishing Ban Enough To Replenish Fish Stocks?

The Sierra Leone government closed the country’s waters to fishing during the entire month of April to give flagging fish stocks a chance to rebuild. During that period industrial fishing companies were not allowed to fish, but artisanal fishers were. Both industrial and artisanal fishers appeared to support the closure, the first of its kind, amid declining catches and an influx of virtually unregulated foreign fishing vessels that locals complain are wiping out fish stocks and putting them out of business. Officials declared the closure a success, as part of Sierra Leone’s broader effort to formalize and gain regulatory control of its fisheries. However, outside experts have expressed doubt that the move would do much to improve the country’s fisheries. Government is now taking a suite of measures beyond the one-month closure to ensure the country’s enormous fisheries potential is fully harnessed. Among them will be pushing for co-management of the country’s fisheries by stakeholders from industry, government and civil society; improving the reliability of data to enhance marine resource management; registering artisanal fishing boats; and appointing a national master fisherman to handle the affairs of fisherfolk. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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