Government blamed for shortage and soaring prices of fish in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 May 2019:

It is Ramadan, and millions of Muslims across Sierra Leone are fasting amid increasing scarcity of fish – the main source of protein for most people in the country.

President Bio has appointed a new minister of trade and industry to help tackle the country’s worsening economic crisis and the growing disquiet among the population. Will this make a difference?

The government is being accused of failing to stem the rising costs of living in the country, especially basic food items such as fish, as Emmanuel Okyne reports for Premier News:

The prices of fish in the market are increasing by the day. This is making it difficult for ordinary Sierra Leoneans to purchase fish as part of their daily diet.

Fish provides 70 percent of the nation’s protein. About 50 percent of Sierra Leoneans who live below the poverty line rely on fish for their protein.

Mariatu Kamara, a housewife, told Premier News that the cost of dry fish and raw fish have increased by almost 100 percent in the past five weeks. She said that a portion of fish that used to cost Le10,000 is now sold at Le20,000. She attributed the high cost to the short supply of fish in the market.

The shortage came after the end of government’s one-month ban on industrial fishing, which local fishermen hoped would replenish stocks but whose impact has been limited by its short span.

The government imposed the moratorium at the start of April on industrial boats, most of which are owned by Chinese and South Koreans.

Local fishermen complained these trawlers damage their nets and disrupt schools of fish in shallow waters. “Unfortunately, this SLPP government is doing nothing tangible to address this menace,” Kamara said.

She noted that the situation was becoming dire with each passing day. She said that fish is now very scarce and food prices are affecting household savings.

Margaret Murray, a fishmonger, said that they price their fish based on carton price.

She said that the price of a carton of fish has increased by 60 percent. “We don’t do business to loss. We sell based on the market price,” she said.

Murray said that the ban on industrial fishing greatly affects the supply of fish in the market.

In Sierra Leone, nearly half the population does not have enough to eat, especially since the SLPP came to power, and fish make up most of what little protein people get.

But the country’s once-plentiful shoals, combined with weak government regulation, have lured a flotilla of unscrupulous foreign trawlers to its waters.

Most of the trawlers fly Chinese flags, though dozens also sail from South Korea, Italy, Guinea and Russia.

Their combined catch is pushing Sierra Leone’s fisheries to the brink of collapse.

Sierra Leone is not alone in facing this crisis, although things have worsened since the SLPP arrived on the scene.

According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, 90 percent of the World’s fisheries are dangerously over exploited.

The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, a think-tank funded by America’s defence department, reckons that about a quarter of fish caught off Africa’s shores are taken illegally.


Emmanuel Okyne reports for Premier News


  1. This whole article is propaganda against the new direction. But notwithstanding the government of Sierra Leone under the leadership of the corrupt free president of the Republic of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio’s plan to boom the fishing sectors by empowering the local fishermen with fishing vessels to improve their skills in fish production.

    There was massive corruption in ministry of fishing and marine resources, thanks to the new direction for fighting against corruption in that ministry. Sierra Leone will soon realise and see the fishing sector booming the life of the ordinary citizens. International business investors are planning to invest billions of dollars in that sector.

    Bravo to the honorable Minister Mrs Emma kowa jalloh for transforming that ministry; stopped all illegal fishing activities under the past government. We had hundreds of unlicensed vessels owned by non-citizen, whereas citizens were just labourers.

    I think we should allow the new direction agenda to transform Sierra Leone for the ordinary citizens. Building the human capital, diversifying the economy of the country, invest in the human resources, improving the free quality Education, Health sector, tourism and culture.

    We should put Sierra Leone first, fighting against corruption, improvement in the life of the ordinary citizens. Let us forget about nagative political misleading information about our government – our country and our president. Thank God the president we have is a President that always fly above negativity.

  2. I will personally like to commend the new direction for the bold step that they took by banning the trawlers from fishing for a month. But on the other end I believe that a month was a very short period to have the most impact which the government was trying to accomplish.

    Speaking from a personal experience, I do not know if it was a direction from the Almighty or a strange coincidence, I was fortunate to build a boat in the peninsular of Freetown few weeks prior to the government ban. So I travelled to Freetown on the first week of April to launch my boat project to have a firsthand experience of the effect of the government policy.

    My boat captain and his two fisherman used to catch 4 – 6 dozen of snapper fish everyday within the first week of the ban and within the end of the 3rd and 4th week they started catching up to 22 dozen a day and it was only line fishing and not chain fishing and based on the information I just received yesterday few weeks after the ban was lifted, the catch is back to less than 10 dozen snapper a day.

    With regards to the price during the Ramadan season it’s just a normal practice for traders to always take advantage of the people, by hiking prices of goods just to maximize their profits which according to the holy book is immoral.

    I hope that the government will continue to monitor the Chinese fishing company in Kent village especially the methods they are using to fish which in many countries will be unacceptable, and if the new direction refuses to continue the monitoring we would have no one else to blame but ourselves.

  3. Who do you want to blame again? APC? I have never seen such an inept government with lots of incompetences that they always want to run away from or looking for someone to blame. They are quick to grab anything good that has come in as a result of the works of the previous government but want to shy away from challenges, even after they promised to fix all when they come to power. DO YOUR HOMEWORK GUYS AND PROVIDE FOR THE PEOPLE OF MAMA SALONE.

  4. Another well written article – but before I proceed I would like to applaud the writer for his frankness, impartial insights and candor. Well done! Its an irresponsible thing for government to start the implementation of any policy, plan, mandate, or directive without first thinking about the consequences of their actions.

    Will it succeed or fail – if it is a success fine, but if it fails, then what? Does a Tree-cutter or lumberman go into the forest to cut down trees without first examining and sharpening his axe? Will he not carry an extra one, just in case the first one breaks, or the blade becomes too dull?

    Did Bio and his people ask themselves, what provisions they had to put in place to ease the strain and burden to be encountered by the poor masses, if things did not go as planned? Its obvious they didn’t! This is a clear signal – we must always remember that lack of foresight is the weakest rung on the ladder of prosperity and success.

    The truth of the matter is that they have already failed. Level headed people execute their plans with caution, restraint and not in haste – Tell the SLPP government I said so! See the end result – their blind over zealousness have failed the good people of Sierra Leone completely, and left them without any credible options to turn to – absolutely nothing – not even a single lifeline to hold on to in this Blessed month of Ramadan.

    My findings clearly indicate that replenishing fish stocks successfully, usually takes many years and is certainly not an overnight process. Someone should have alerted and told these dullards, that’s how these things works. Instead of putting a fishing ban in place for a brief, unproductive month, they should have let the trawlers continue fishing, but only in specific designated fishing zones, with the Navy Patrols watching, seizing fishing vessels and imposing huge fines if they violate any rules and overstep their bounds.

    In this way the steady flow of government revenues will not be interrupted and the usual processing and supplies of fish will remain unaffected – and best of all, not a word of complaint will be heard coming from the general public. Now Ramadan is here, Muslims will be feeling the pinch that comes from the highest prices of fish and other commodities, and there is nothing they can do.

    Sierra Leoneans have been enduring the pains and strains of poverty and mistreatment like a bad marriage – and they have had no other options but to remain in it – now once again another government, worse than the others through lack of vision, is totally indifferent that they are drowning in abject poverty.

    At several instances in their lives, they have been in the frying pan burning and sizzling in the hot oils of survival, but those wretched days are gone – now they have been pushed directly into the fire to be burned and incinerated into ashes. So very heartbreaking and sad! But take heart good people, all is not lost -The Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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