The Management of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the Administration of the University of Liberia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a degree program in Fisheries Science to be offered at the state-run university.

With funding of US$1.2 million from the World Bank, the program intends to build the capacity of aspiring fishery scientists to manage Liberia’s rich fisheries sector.

In addition, , the UL is responsible for awareness and sensitization on the new degree and course listing, as well as to create a motivation scheme to the general public with interest in acquiring this new skill through the degree granting program.

“The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) under the MoU shall provide funding for the establishment of the fisheries program; renovate five buildings and construct bathrooms; provide funding for training for faculty members for the fisheries program; and set up laboratory and provide all the apparatus and equipment”, the MoU is quoted as saying.

The signing took place on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at the University of Liberia’s Fendall campus.  Madam Emma Metieh Glassco signed on behalf of NaFAA, while Dr. Julius Sawolo Nelson signed for the university.

Speaking at the ceremony, Madam Glassco described the introduction of the Fisheries Science program at the University of Liberia “as a boost to the sector and win for the Liberia”.

Madam Glassco said the introduction of the program will “help breach the knowledge gap in the fisheries sector by investing in human resource capacity development which could help maximize the potential in the sector and Liberians would have a fair appreciation of the commercially viable species”.

According to her, the program will include ‘Bachelor Degree, Associate Degree and certificates’.

“This program will also offer a short-term certificate program. We’re also targeting our fisherfolks to acquire knowledge and skills in fish processing to compete with others in the sub-region. It will have impact on the impact on the economy”.

Earlier, Dr. Nelson lavished praises on Director General Glassco and her team for their innovation in introducing the program in the Liberian education sector. Dr. Nelson described the signing as a celebration at the university, while promising to create awareness to attract more people in Fisheries Science.

“Today is a day for celebration at the University of Liberia. After several interactions, consultations and discussions, we’re here to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Liberia and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority”

“We’ll intention to recruit for this program and therefore we’re encouraging schools to help create awareness to have more students on board”.

“We are proud to have one of our own, an alumnus – working hard to uplift her alma mater”, Dr. Nelson said.

The introduction of Fisheries Science Degree in the Liberian school system has been a long running dream of the NaFAA boss.

At a school career day program in 2021 West Point, Madam Glassco unveiled her plan for degree program in Fisheries Science to be offered in Liberia. This was in recognition of the challenges Liberian students go through acquiring degree in Fisheries Science abroad. It’s estimated that the fisheries sector stands to be the highest source of government revenue if it’s well managed. This is not possible in the absence of trained professionals.

The degree program once it gets in motion, would address the education needs of aspiring fishery scientists.

Fish is a primary source of protein for many Liberians and is second only to rice as the most purchased food commodity. Small-scale fishers provide the majority of the domestic fish supply. While models differ on their predictions about the impacts of climate change on West Africa’s coastal fisheries, a recent study found that climate change may increase their productivity, but benefits for local fishing communities will only be realized if threats such as poor governance and overfishing by other nations are effectively addressed Fisheries Management: The government’s capacity to manage and regulate fisheries collapsed during the civil war, leading to widespread illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Liberian waters.

Annual per capita fish consumption is among the lowest in the region and has decreased over time due to damage to fisheries infrastructure during the civil war, over-exploitation of resources this period. Since the end of the civil war, the then Liberian Bureau of National Fisheries has continued to grapple with issues of low enforcement capacity, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of resources to properly survey fisheries. A recent analysis estimates that IUU catches in Liberia are worth about $75 million per year. This study also found small-scale catches are “grossly under-estimated” and that exploitable fish biomass “could generate a sustainable catch sufficient to meet Liberians’ need for animal protein.

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