The ban on nighttime fishing expires tomorrow and despite the claim of an instance of violation of the ban at Gunjur beach, the fisheries officer for Gunjur said the ban was strictly adhered to by both the fishermen and Golden Lead Fishmeal Factory.
The idea behind the ban on nocturnal fishing is to allow the existing fish stock to regenerate as well as provide a breathing space for juvenile fish to grow into edible fish.
Meanwhile, there were no reports of violations in the various landing sites along the southern coastline such as Brufut, Tanji, Tujereng, Sanyang and Kartong.
However, a Gunjur-born environmentalist Ahmed Manjang said the enforcement of the ban in his native village was lax. He pointed out that the enforcement of the ban on nighttime fishing wasn’t robust in Gunjur as there wasn’t any boot on the ground to police the beaches.
According to the environmentalist, it was unfortunate the ban wasn’t properly monitored in Gunjur, saying the Senegalese fishermen have been exploiting what, he described as, the lax enforcement regime to supply captured fish to the Chinese to operate in violation of the ban.
But as the ban on night fishing elapses tomorrow, the Fisheries Officer for Gunjur fish landing site, Ebrima Jabang, on Saturday informed The Voice that the ban on night fishing was robustly enforced by the naval patrol team, the fire officers and fisheries staff on the ground.
When Mr. Manjang’s claims were laid out to him, Mr Jabangsaid: “The fishmeal factories have been licensed to work year-round. They can source fish from Kafountine, Jaol, and any other areas not affected by the ban. I can tell you with certainty that the ban was rigidly applied and the compliance rate was 100%. Everyone complied with it. The beaches were robustly patrolled by the Gambia Navy and the fire officers at the beach also provided invaluable operational support.”
He dismissed as unfounded the claim that the Senegalese were profiteering from the “weak” enforcement of the ban.
“This is not true. There was no weakness to be exploited. We’ve made sure the enforcement of the ban was watertight to avoid any infractions,” Mr Jabang explained to this medium in an exclusive interview.
He said the Senegalese fishermen used to sell their captured fish from Senegal to The Gambia due to the proximity of the territorial waters of the two countries.
Meanwhile, according to Mr. Jabang, the Gunjur fish landing site committee has increased the site’s revenue from a few hundred thousand to D4M this year.
He also said the fishmeal factory makes a monthly contribution of D50,000 to the Gunjur VDC, though this was not independently verified as we went to press.
Mr. Jabang said the center’s committee has also increased the number of shops at the landing site.
“When we took over, the landing site had 10 to 20 shops but we’ve increased the number of shops to almost 200,” he stated.
The fisheries officer said the fisheries ministry and department are currently turning every stone to shift the narrative by ensuring that the benefits of the artisanal fisheries sub-sector percolate to every segment of the coastal communities in particular, and the country at large.