The Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday broke ground for the construction of the headquarters of its Bureau of National Fisheries (BNF), a major step towards making the sector vibrant.
The fisheries bureau has been occupying a building located on the Bushrod Island since the 1950s and has in recent years been pressured by the National Port Authority which owns the premises to vacate the property.
The current facility is also inadequate to host the West African Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP), an ongoing program aimed at prospering the sub-regional fishery sector.
First, a US$300,000 temporary structure will be constructed, and this would be followed the construction of the actual structure estimated to cost about US$20 million. The project was previously planned to commence in 2014, but was stalled by the deadly Ebola outbreak.
According to the Coordinator of BNF, William Boeh, the prefabricated office will house the Bureau and the WARFP in order to facilitate close coordination of fisheries management activities, including monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities and among other things.
The facility will also serve as a work station for technicians and consultants involved in the project.
Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site in Omega Tower community in Paynesville City, Representative Fofi Sahr Baimba of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture, said the future of Liberia lies in agriculture.
He added that the launch of the construction project of the Bureau’s headquarters symbolizes the dawn of a new day for the fishery sector.
“We have always believed that the only way to drive Liberia’s economy is to go back to the agriculture sector, all the sectors and players in the agriculture industry,” Rep. Baimba said.
He continued: “I understand that we are the envy of the African states around us when it comes to fisheries. This [proposed] building will be the symbol of the fishery industry.”
The Lofa County lawmaker called on Liberians to help make the sector attractive to investors for the creation of jobs.
He also called for an investment in inland fishery and pledged to rally the support of the Legislature to make laws with incentives to woo in investors to invest in the country’s fishery industry.
For his part, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sisi Subah said the new headquarters, when erected, will afford Liberia the opportunity to harness the benefits of its fishery industry.
He said it is ridiculous that Liberians were eating unfit fish and fish products in their diets when the country has large body of fresh waters rich in variety of high protein fish.