All semi industrial vessels must now have observers onboard …Minister of Fisheries demands

By Mohamed Konneh

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Hon. Emma Kowa Jalloh has said in Freetown that all semi industrial vessels henceforth must have observers onboard.

“Not only this, they must also have visual monitoring service (VMS) onboard and crew list that will allow the ministry to know who and who are going to sea on these boats, the Minister said.

The Minister was addressing a meeting of family members, civil society groups and the media on an alleged missing fisherman (James Bendu) that was onboard a semi industrial vessel owned by Sea-right Fishing Company a Chinese operated fishing vessel in the country.

The meeting held on Monday 20th July was to conclude the matter on the alleged missing fisherman while the fishing company was asked to do the needful in taking care of the family.

The Minister said her Ministry has learnt series of lessons from this matter and they are now putting measures in place to forestall this kind of problem.

Hon. Kowa Jalloh said the fishermen union was also disorganized and that the ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relation are now collaborating to organize the union better; adding that a disorganized union affects the sector the more.

These measures she said will be implemented noting that a number of issues continue to occurred at sea leading to fatalities.

“We as a ministry will not sit by and allow situations like this to continue and this affects our own brothers who normally go to sea onboard these vessels to find their living. We are closing the matter today also because we cannot continue searching endlessly. The company has provided some money before now and today again they will make another provision to the family based on discussion”, she said.

John Tambi Mansaray, representative of Sea Right Fisting Company, in his presentation thanked the Ministry for their mediation role between the company and family noting that they had presented Thirty Million Leones before now and they will be also presenting another Thirty million to the family of the missing fisherman.

“We apologized for what happed and pray and hope that this will never happen again. We are talking about the life of a Sierra Leonean and we too are concern. We don’t want this kind of situation to occur anymore because we are in business, he said.”

“Our boat has been grounded since the incident and that’s a big loss to the company but when it comes to life we have to abide by the directives of the ministry”. This is what we doing.

The wife of the missing fisherman, Yeama Bendu was in pain and tears receiving the money noting that the money is nothing compare to his husband’s life.

“I don’t have anything to say but to say thanks to the ministry for pushing through with this matter. We have had cases of such but nothing came out of it but in my situation it is different. So I thank all of those who have contributed one way or the other to make this happen”, she said.

James Bendu, the missing fisherman that was onboard the Sea Right vessels that went fishing but never return. Allegations are that he was pushed in the sea by the Chinese Captains after he was alleged to have caught stealing in the cool room.

The matter was reported to the police with ongoing investigation. It was also alleged that James was never pushed in the sea but had escape and was hiding somewhere in the country.

Search for this missing fisherman has now continued for the last six months but to no avail. The vessel was also grounded with ongoing investigation by the police.

The Ministry of Fisheries on the other hand was caught in the middle of the saga and immediately intervenes into the matter. The ministry in the event summoned series of meeting and had the final meeting on Monday to conclude on the matter.




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