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Deputy Speaker Koffa Challenges Gov’t, Partners

By Precious D Freeman

Deputy Speaker Jonathan Fonati Koffa challenged the Government of Liberia and its development partners to work out modalities that would make Liberia an industrialized fishery nation.

The Department of Fishery and Aquaculture Science (DoFAS) was launched on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 by the UL in collaboration with the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority, (NaFAA).

As Guest Speaker, Deputy Speaker Koffa pointed out that Liberia’s fishery folks cannot continue to be called just “fishermen,” instead there is a need for steps taken to building an industrialized nation through the fishery sector, especially in the face of the building of human capital with the launch of the Department of Fishery and Aquaculture Science (DoFAS) at the UL. 

“Today is the start of the first step. This is the hallmark of Liberia’s academics and thanks to the UL and NAFAA for this innovation. But my warning is, this sector should not be like firestone, where we process all the rubber but we are unable to make a single tyre here. We can’t be fishermen for Europe. We must process and build the capacity of our people so that we can have an industrial society,” Deputy Speaker Koffa intimated.

“This is the way to go and we stand ready to be with you and support you,” Deputy Speaker Koffa told the gathering.  “I want to thank the UL and the dynamic leadership of the president to ensure that things happen and also thank to our foreign partners for support to different programs to Liberia,” he added.

As part of government’s effort in making the department more vibrant, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor committed to contributing US$500,000 within the national budget in buttressing the “Free tuition policy” for higher education.

“As we are moving in this direction, please do not leave out the commercial value of the sector. Let us prioritize sustainability so that we can get as much fish as we can. We must also encourage women to the sector because it will help sustainability. Government will make its contribution of half a million to make it free for our young people,” she announced.

The UL president, Julius Sarwolo Nelson, explained that the program is expected to provide students with an opportunity to obtain an undergraduate degree in fisheries and aquaculture science.

According to him, the program is designed to prepare fisheries professionals with competence and acquiring practical skills in fisheries and aquaculture as well as fish processing and marketing issues.

“The overall goal of this program is to build the needed human resource capacity that will support the Liberian government in achieving its sustainable development objectives of national food and nutrition security, resource conservation, and sustainable management of fisheries resource of Liberia, marine and inland ecosystems to provide long-term goods and services to the communities,” Dr. Nelson asserted.

The Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, Valerie Hickey, indicated that the launch of the program is right for the people of Liberia and added that in a quest for Liberia to make proper use of its fishery industry, she noted that economic growth and industrialization can be depended on the oceans.

 “Liberia can become a leader in the fishery industry and those industrial boats must be owned and operated by Liberians. This is about creating the best infrastructure, best future and best technical specialists. They can unlock the power of Mother Ocean for the benefit of Liberia. You have to build strong regulations for job security that will contribute hugely to the country’s GDP,” the renowned international environmentalist intoned.

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