Liberia: Coastal environs to benefit from community science project extension

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The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) along with the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA) are embarking upon an innovative community science project to manage sharks and rays in three new coastal communities.

By George Harris.

According to a press release from EJF, the community science project is buildingon its success to expand from Monrovia (Montserrado County) and Robertsport (Grand Cape Mount County) to new locations, which include Buchanan (Grand Bassa County), Harper (Maryland County) and Marshall (Montserrado County).

 ‘‘There is very little informationon how their [sharks and rays]populations are doing and in some cases, none at all. There is an urgent need to gather crucial data that can support sustainablemanagement; this is why we are excited to work with the LiberianGovernment’s NAFAA and fishing communities in trying to secure a brighterfuture for sharks and rays,”said Amdeep Sanghera, EJF’s Coordinator for the project.

The project is intended to train locals in coastal communities on gathering key information about Liberia’s sharks and ray population. Training on how identify and measure sharks and rays are some activities of the project that locals are to benefit from. Also the project will provide communities with opportunities to feed into plans meant to improve fisheries sustainability.

The press statement also said that sharks and rays that are routinely fished in Liberia lack legal protection.  It added that slowness in growth, sexual maturity, and low rate of reproduction are other factors causing sharks and rays vulnerability to overfishing.

Meanwhile, the Director General of NAFAA, Emma M. Glassco, has welcome the extension of the project into other coastal communities. Madam Glassco added that ecosystem approach would bring more benefits to marine wildlife but also local dwellers.

“Sharks and rays areimportant for the health of the marine ecosystems that support local fishing communities. With a new government in place in Liberia, we have the chance to make a fresh start, taking an ecosystem approach that provides the best possible solution for both local people and marine wildlife,”said Emma M. Glassco.

Since 2013, EJF has been working to identify and measure sharks and rays landing at West Point (Monrovia) and Robertsport (Grand Cape Mount), its previous project locations. The press release also said that EJF aims to harness local strengths, expertise and skills andto give recognition to local individuals and communities who are taking lead on protecting their natural world.

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