D52 Million Fines Imposed On Violators of Fishing Regulations

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Fisheries Minister, Musa Drammeh, has disclosed that a total of D52 Million dalasi was imposed on vessels and violators for using wrong fishing nets and for fishing in prohibited zones. 

Mr Drammeh said this while responding to a question put to him by the member for Jeshwang on Wednesday 13th December 2023, during the question and answer session at the National Assembly.

Hon. Sarr asked the Minister if they have a method to monitor the hinterland of the Gambia river to avert or combat the use of wrong net sizes,as a lot of juvenile fish was recently seen caught and sold in different locations. In his response, Minister Drammeh said they have inspectors in all the regions and as soon as they discover such things, the Police is informed to arrest them and take them to court.

Hon. Sheriff S. Sarr, further asked the Minister to explain whether they have apprehended or sent people to court for using wrong net sizes.

In his response, Minister Drammeh answered in the positive and said less than two months ago, some vessels were intercepted and fines imposed on them for using wrong net sizes within the prohibitted fishing zones. He said these people were earlier asked to pay D22 Million, and the previous one was over D30 Million.

The Member for Upper Saloum, Hon. Alhagie Mbow, asked the Minister to explain the issues encountered by the Gambia and the plans his Ministry has in place to mitigate the proliferation of illegal fishing in the sub-region, of which Gambia is not an exception.

Musa Drammeh replied that the Fisheries Ministry is aware of the proliferation of illegal fishing of which Gambia is not an exception. According to him, some of the issues encountered are fishing in prohibited zones and fishing with wrong net sizes. Short and long term measures initiated by the Ministry in 2021, he added, include the establishment of a Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) equipped with a VMS Automatic Identification System (AIS) which enables the Ministry to monitor fishing vessels operating in Gambian waters.

He said based on the evidence of infringement facilitated by the FMC, fishing vessels have been intercepted and fined, adding the Fisheries Department is also collaborating with the Gambia Navy in the fight against illegal fishing, with the recent acquisition of a good patrol boat for the protection of the Gambia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. He said the Gambia as a member of the sub regional fisheries Commission is benefitting from a joint maritime surveillance initiative to fight against illegal fishing.

“If they turn off their (the vessels) transponders, we will know that they have deliberately turned it off and we will make sure that the Gambia Navy is informed to go and arrest them,” the Minister said.

Minister Drammeh said they have set up a taskforce to see the possibility of buying a second boat to monitor the country’s territorial waters 24/7 hours.

The Member for Brikama South, Hon. Lamim J Sanneh, asked the Minister to update the Assembly on the status of the implementation of the ADB Water Project covering the whole of Brikama South.

In giving an update, Minister Drammeh said the design and tender process of the water supply systems mentioned by Hon Sanneh have been finalized since last year, but works couldn’t proceed due to unavailability of funds form the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).He however expressed hope that the Ministry will  get additional funding through the Transitional Support Facility (TSF) Window of the AfDB to sign the contracts for the works.

Minister Drammeh explained that they are facing funding gap in their project with the AfDB, saying “The first D9 Million they provided was for 55 communities, and the second 55 communities is what we are expecting from the AfDB in January in 2024.”

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