Speaking at a press conference held in Freetown earlier this week, the Sierra Leone Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources, Hon Dr S Kabia, confirmed that the patrol vesselIsle of Manhad detained a vessel suspected of fishing illegally in Sierra Leonean waters. The vessel was picked up during a routine patrol, and was displaying a false identity and call sign. Further investigations are ongoing to ascertain the identity of the vessel in question.
Dr Kabia said:
'Sierra Leone will be consistently tough on illegal operators. They are undermining our country’s economy and development. I have not hesitated to use the full force of the law against them, and the donation of the patrol boat by the people and Government of the Isle of Man has given us a powerful resource to do just that.'
Welcoming this news, DEFA Minister Phil Gawne MHK, Chair of the Isle of Man Overseas Aid Committee, said:
'I was absolutely delighted to be contacted by Minister Kabia confirming this news. The ex-Isle of Man customs vessel, which was donated by the Isle of Man Government in September, is already acting as a notable deterrent to illegal poaching. This detention will send a clearer message to those wishing to plunder Sierra Leones fisheries that the days when they could get away with this are numbered. I am very pleased to hear that the vessel continues to perform well. Healthy fisheries are the most important source of protein for Sierra Leone’s people, and this donation is clearly having a benefit to the nation as a whole that is worth many times the value of the vessel itself. Recent improvements in fisheries policy and enforcement in Sierra Leone have resulted in over $30 million per annum in increased legally caught fish sales and a large proportion of this increased economic value is as a result of Isle of Man support.'
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