The plenary of the Liberian Senate has mandated its relevant committees to investigate the reduction of the Inshore Exclusive Zone (IEZ) and the transfer of the fisheries sector from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Liberia Maritime Authority orders by the executive branch, through the issuance of Executive Order #84.
The Senate decision was based on a communication sent yesterday to the plenary by Senator Albert Chie complaining that the action when enforced will shrink by fifty percent the area reserved for small scale Liberian fishermen. Senator Chie noted that the decision will put Liberian fishermen out of business and impact their livelihood. Conversely, he said many experts belief that reduction of the IEZ will greatly benefit foreign industrial fishermen, lead to overexploitation of Liberia’s near-shore fish resources, negatively impact food security and will be counterproductive to the growth of the Liberian economy. “Some of Liberia’s international partners such as the European Union have criticized this move by the Executive Branch of Government, citing its cooperation with Liberia through the EU-Liberia sustainable Partnership Agreement to promote responsible fishing as enshrined in the FAO’s Code of Conduct for responsible fishing,” he said. Recently the Government of Liberia (GoL) said it reached a decision in the interest expressed by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) relative to Executive Order 84, which reduced Liberia’s Inshore Exclusion Zone from six nautical miles to three nautical miles (NM) for the purpose of revitalizing commercial and semi-industrial fishing in Liberia. The Government also believes strongly that fishery has great potential for the domestic economy if done properly. The Executive Order seeks to ensure that the full economic benefits of the country’s fishery resources are harnessed without compromising the livelihood of the artisanal fishermen as well as the sustainable management of the country’s resources. Meanwhile the senate committees on Agriculture, Judiciary are mandated to investigate the matter and report to the senate plenary in one week period.