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NaFAA, USPWUL Impasse Over Chinese Vessels Licencing

By Bill W. Cooper
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the United Seamen, Ports and General Workers’ Union of Liberia (USPWUL) two-day protest ended in a deadlock as the former says it will be a bridge of international protocols to grant licenses to the six Chinese vessels.
Some aggrieved USPWUL protesters who gathered at the head offices of NaFAA on the Bushrod Island on July 31 carried placards with the inscription, “Mr. President and Madam Glasco this treatment is evil; Madam Glasco if you don’t register the six vessels, you will be removed from office; and Madam Glasco do you realize Liberia is faced with economic hardship/crisis? Please stop treating your fellow Liberians like this among others.”
The USPWUL president, Samuel K. Siaffa accused Madam Glasco of continuously refusing to provide licenses to the six Chinese vessels on grounds that the vessels’ documents are not correct is only intended to marginalize industrial fishing in the country.
Mr. Siaffa noted that before a vessel leaves this country, said vessel will have to send all of its particulars to the requisite entity to be scrutinized before entering any country for operation and pointed out that the six Chinese vessels have been undergoing scrutiny for the past three months.
According to him, the six Chinese vessels which are expected to provide over 126 job opportunities for seafarers have been in the country for more than 51 days and contended that if the various vessels had problems, the Director General should not have allowed them dock at the country’s port.
Without reneging on their strike action, Siaffa emphasized that they have waited for over four years all to no avail and further alleged that many times the leadership tried engaging Madam Glasco as it relates to giving the six Chinese vessels their permit, but expressed that she had deliberately refused.
“We cannot accept another appeal or promise from Madam Glasco again because the vessels only have five more days to depart the country for another destination and we are afraid that if there are any more delays, we will definitely lose this huge job opportunity. If that happens, Madam Gkasco will definitely get to know the power of the approximately 6,000 seafarers,” Mr. Siaffa threatened.
However, following several interventions, in her response to the aggrieved protesters, Madam Glasco clarified that she had refused to grant the Chinese vessels their licenses because the vessels’ authorization had been expired by its flag state (China).
Madam Glassco disclosed that there are several technical issues associated with licensing those fishing vessels as such all of those technical issues will have to be addressed adequately before their registration and subsequent license to fish in Liberian water can be issued.
Mrs. Glassco said, “The six gigantic vessels that came to Liberia have larger fishing capacities and such vessels have never come to Liberia to fish and China as a flag state needed to issue those vessels authorization to enable the vessels fish beyond China’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) or in distance water.”
Glassco mentioned that Liberia through NaFAA has not received any authorization from the flag state, except a transit document from Mozambique to Liberia, however, that expired since June 26, 2020 and that under that circumstances, “Liberia cannot issue licenses to those vessels when the flag state has not authorized the vessels to operate on distance waters.
“Liberia is a member of United Nations Port State Measures Agreement to deter and eliminate Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing, it also stance to be red carded as a non-compliance country if these giant trawlers which we have not seen before are licensed without proper due diligence,” she stated.
Mrs. Glassco recalled how Liberia is currently nursing a yellow card issued by the European Union and all efforts are being put in place to lift the yellow card which Liberia got as a result of the illegal fishing activities during the former regime.
She explained that the licensing of these six Super Trawlers has to be in line with the United Nation Fish Stock Agreement, meaning licensing of additional vessels has to be based on the availability of resources.
She noted that most of the vessels operating in Liberian waters are not entering European Union ports due to the current yellow card issue and explained that the yellow card placed on Liberia is directly affecting the fisheries and Maritime Authorities and that this is having negative effects on the Liberian economy.
The Liberian Fisheries Boss further indicated that currently, Liberia is the second largest open registry in the world and if cautions are not considered by this government through NaFAA, Liberia could degenerate downward to the least position in the world because of the yellow card issued by the European Union.
Hon. Glassco however said there exists possibilities for Liberian Seamen to board other international fishing vessels despite the lack of fishing pier to contain bigger fishing vessels. She disclosed that six members of the Liberian seamen union will shortly depart Liberia for Ghana to board two international fishing vessels licensed by NaFAA.
Madam Glassco said given the current status of the six Chinese fishing vessels, the Liberian government through NaFAA cannot issue those licenses because this might result to a red card from the EU which could hamper chances of operating the entire national fisheries entity and later end the aspirations of the local seamen.
Moreover, she indicated that as far as those vessels are concern Liberia cannot go contrary to Chapter 10 of the 2019 Fisheries and Aquaculture Management and Development Law and any international Laws or protocols because it risks red card from EU and this will also harper the market repelling international vessels from operating in Liberian waters.

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