• November 10, 2023

Parliament Engages Fishing Companies

Parliament Engages Fishing Companies
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By Dontance Koroma

The Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and Marine Resources has on Wednesday 8th November , 2023 engaged majority of the fishing companies in the country with the aim of interacting with citizens and non-citizens in the industrial fishing sector on how they can contribute to the government Feed Salone initiative.

 

As head of the 16 man committee, Hon. Nanneh Lebbie cushioned all and sundry that the engagement is far from been a witch hunt and she called on them to realized that fish contributes to the government ambitious Feed Salone initiative and also to the breadbasket of the country, but however, the female MP stated that as head of the committee on fisheries and marine resources, it is her wishes that industrial fishing companies break even.

 

According to Hon. Lebbie, findings have revealed that Fish is more valuable than diamond of recent noting cannot be unconnected to the reason why good fishes are hard to come by in the country’s local markets across the country. She informed representatives from fishing companies that parliament has passed a Bill that has now graduated into law on women participation and as a result requested all fishing companies create a gender desk that will focus on equity and how positions are allocated to women.

 

The lawmaker also lay emphasis on the hygiene situation of most fishing companies that she said continues to prevent Sierra Leone fishes not to be sold in the European Union market because most fishing companies in Sierra Leone are still unable to meet the standards set by the EU market. She told the country’s industrial fishing companies that there are lots of baby fishes on the market resulting to the refusal to use the required nets prescribed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

 

She reminded fishing companies that hiding the wrong nets during inspection by the parliamentary committee is a serious crime that can warrant prosecution while she further stressed on the need for fishing companies to always secure correct license that will guarantee their operations. Hon. Nanneh Lebbie also urged fishing companies with foreigner workers to see that they are in possession of all relevant documents that is, residential and work permit to stay and work in the country.

 

The legislator informed the fishing companies that during their oversight visit, workers intimated that majority of the companies are refusing to pay National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) for their workers, combine with the unavailability of correct protective gears and prolong causal or probation for over ten years is uncalled for.

 

Hon .Lebbie put it to the fishing companies that they had failed to accomplish most of their corporate social responsibility to the various communities they are operating, which she said is a disservice to those communities that they are located. Transshipment of Sierra Leone fishes has a serious impact on the citizenry, the MP relieved.

 

Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawallie informed committee members that he noticed that PEE CEE and Sons are dealing in frozen food and fish without the consent of the parliamentary committee of fisheries and marine resources. The MP from Makeni called on Sierra Fisheries, who happens to be the biggest in the industrial fishing industry to take heed of the said situation. Responding to the issue raised by Hon. Catherine Z. Tarawallie, representative of Sierra Fisheries alluded to the fact that they still enjoys the largest catch in the country and also an agent to many , PEE CEE and SONS trading on fish when they are not registered for such is a bad thing , he said. We are selling fish to them but that should not have warranted them to start selling, he emphasized.

 

Reacting to issues raised by both female MPs, Ephraim Ayim, OK Geobit Fishing Company pleaded with the committee for time spanning between six months to a year for the setting up of a gender desk. According to Ayim, he had long advised the European Union to come into Sierra Leone with their own investors and erect their cool rooms to their standards, according to him, local certification and standards remain huge challenges facing the industrial fishing industry.

 

In the aspect of equal opportunity for women, fishing companies told the committee that it will be a bit difficult due to the fact that the industry use 40% unskilled workers offshores and 10% skilled. The fishing industry also clarified that from their understanding, none citizens should not have work permit but shore pass whenever they want to disembark from the vessel. We are a bit confuse, because we already have a community action plan for five years while commitment to honor commitment on corporate social responsibility on our neck , they told MPs.

 

The issue of paying cool room rent lease to both ministries of Labour and fisheries came up but however, Alhaji Ibrahim Conteh of OKeke Global clarified that factory inspection lease for cool rooms must be paid to city council and not either of the ministries. He also clarified that marine regulation demand that a landing permit must be secure for off shores foreign workers in fishing companies.

 

He reiterated that Okeke Global was having twenty two vessels but only operating eight and stressed that they are not responsible for baby fishes on the markets but the artisanal sector. Hon. Lulu Tongi recommended that all fishing companies should agree on a uniform price of selling a carton of fish rather than selling different prices. In the area of paying NASSIT for workers , Alhaji Ibrahim Conteh  pointed out that it seem difficult for them as fishing companies noting that the normally gives three months contract yet NASSIT want them to be paying monthly .

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