Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 October 2020:
Yesterday Thursday, president Dr Julius Maada Bio commissioned four inshore patrol boats at the White Man’s Bay Navy Headquarters in Murray Town, Freetown.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the occasion, Commander of the Maritime Wing, Captain Navy Philip Juana, said that the role of the Navy is to protect the territorial waters of Sierra Leone and its ecosystem, adding that the task is difficult to perform because the military wing does not have the necessary platform to effectively function.
He explained that the boats have arrived at the right time and will be used to protect the country’s waters.
Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant-General Sullay Ibrahim Sesay, spoke of his profound appreciation to the government and people of South Korea donating the boats to Sierra Leone.
He noted that the general peace and maintenance of the rule of law within the territorial waters of Sierra Leone has been undermined by piracy, sea robbery, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“To that fact, I would like to stress that the gifted patrol crafts will leverage the flexibility of our Maritime Wing to switch between the two principal roles in supporting all national efforts at achieving our defense and developmental aspirations,” he explained.
While handing over the inshore water patrol crafts, representative of the South Korean Ambassador, Mr. Kim Sung Nyeon, commended President Bio for his strong leadership, and his government’s tremendous success in the fight against Covid-19.
“And now, Korea is proud to deliver four speedboats to Sierra Leone. It is our hope that today’s contribution will not only help Sierra Leone’s effort to build up its maritime capabilities, but it will also make our friendship grow stronger,” he noted.
Addressing the ceremony, president Julius Maada Bio said that as a nation, Sierra Leone is contending with large scale plunder of her marine resources through illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
He noted that within the country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone alone, such illegal, unregulated, and unreported looting by foreign vessels, is estimated to be costing Sierra Leone over 26 million dollars in revenue loss, thousands of jobs, loss of livelihoods for coastal and other communities that could otherwise benefit from a flourishing fishing industry, and great shortage of fish on the local market.
“There is a threat to food security, livelihoods, economic development, and sustainable fisheries management that our small nation can ill-afford.
“Add this to the millions of dollars lost to other such illegal activities as tax evasion; under-reporting of fish catch, and overfishing of our waters that degrade our marine environment and strip local fishing communities of their livelihoods, and the real cost of these illegal acts by illegal foreign vessels mounts,” the president said.
He emphasised that the country can no longer afford the cost of such criminal activities including – unregulated immigration, contraband smuggling, narcotics, human trafficking, robbery at sea, and sea piracy.
“These collectively undermine the rule of law and the steady economic gains we are making as a nation.
“I must also note that our brave men and women of the Sierra Leone Navy and members of the maritime agency are first responders in search and rescue operations when boats are stranded or stricken at sea. We cannot afford to lose precious lives in more sea accidents.
“Sierra Leone truly appreciates the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the development goals outlined in Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan. I, therefore, thank the Government and People of The Republic of Korea through Your Excellency, Mr. Lee-in Tae,” he said.
The President assured that Sierra Leone would also commit to working within the Korea-Africa Framework of Cooperation, 2017-2021, in order to enhance cooperation on trade, manufacturing, industrial development, agriculture, telecommunications, human resource development, science and technology, infrastructural development, and the blue economy, among others.
“Sierra Leone truly appreciates the Republic of Korea’s commitment to the development goals outlined in Sierra Leone’s Medium Term National Development Plan.
“I also want to thank the leadership of the Ministry of Defence for their relentless efforts at augmenting the capacity and training of our armed forces. I thank you for your commitment to working towards achieving my Government’s goal of revitalizing the Joint Maritime Committee (JMC) and implementing effective and sustainable surveillance and security systems in Sierra Leone’s waters,” president Bio concluded, as he officially commissioned the four inshore patrol crafts into immediate service.