Towards the full potential of Liberia’s fisheries sector
…. Emma Glassco on a mission to make fishing Liberia’s next economic powerhouse
Emma Metieh-Glassco is no small fish – pun intended. But only those familiar with his work would know. In just over four years since she took the helm of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) as chief executive and chief executive, she has transformed the image of the fishing sector of Liberia into a promising proposition for development and investment partners.
It has not always been so. Over the past decade, the fishing industry has literally struggled with the idea of modernization. With donor support from key partners such as the World Bank, investments have been made in Liberia for the construction of fishing facilities in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties, as well as a fisheries monitoring system illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) in Liberian waters. .
But the potential of these facilities remained largely untapped for many years thereafter. Those who were the primary beneficiaries of this infrastructure, the Liberian fishermen and wholesalers (mostly women), had not upgraded their knowledge, practices and tools to match the improvements made by the donors.
As a result, many local fishermen felt left out, particularly after an executive order, signed by then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, reduced the Coastal Exclusive Zone (EIZ) as established by regulation. on the 2010 fishery from 6 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles. . The executive order allowed foreign trawlers to fish within six nautical miles of Liberia. For local fishermen, it was an act of encroachment on their already restricted fishing space. Due to their manually operated paddle boats, most of them could not venture into the open seas compared to sophisticated foreign trawlers.
Given the unfair advantage of foreign trawlers over local fishermen, Glassco sought to increase the capacity of local fishermen and succeeded in providing them with 600 motorized outboard motors, with the support of the Japanese government. This opportunity was followed by training in engine maintenance, as well as safety programs for sea anglers. Anglers from the nine coastal counties – Montserrado, Grand Kru, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Cape Mount , Bomi, Maryland and Margibi – benefited from this revolutionary program.
In addition to motorized outboard motors, NaFAA has provided fishermen with environmentally friendly nets in exchange for seines, which are bad for the marine environment.
These innovative programs and other livelihood improvements for coastal dwellers have inspired support from international partners such as the World Bank, European Union, Japanese government and the Food Organization of the United Nations. and Agriculture (FAO), attracting over US$88. million to the Liberian fisheries sector.
These programs have had both an environmental and economic impact, such as the net exchange program, the motor paddle program, the transition from wooden canoes to fiberglass boats, storage equipment such as solar freezers and fish handling equipment for women fishers, construction of fish farms markets for fishmongers, and many more.
In its own words, Glassco envisions “the growth and development of the full potential of Liberia’s fisheries and maritime sectors through the integration of its scientific knowledge, expertise and skills; thus enabling the sustainable exploitation of the sector’s income-generating capacity and supporting the country’s food security.
Born from the union of Dr. Paul C. Metieh, a retired physician, and Mary Coleman Metieh, a retired professor from the University of Liberia in Liberia, Emma Metieh-Glassco is an expert in ocean governance with more than eleven (11) years of experience. work experience in the fisheries and maritime sectors of Liberia. She wanted to become a doctor, so she earned her Bachelor of Science (BSc.) in Zoology from the University of Liberia, in 2011.
She first immersed herself in the fishing industry in July 2012, a few months after completing her undergraduate studies, when she took a job as a Fisheries Monitoring Center Officer in within the West Africa-Liberia Regional Fisheries Project (WARFP), a project sponsored by the World Bank. Project of the former National Bureau of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture.
During her five years of service in this position, she monitored the movement of fishing vessels sailing along Liberian territorial waters, which helped prevent illegal fishing activities and generated revenue for the government through fines, vessels caught in illegal activities; as well as to collect intelligence on the operations and practices of fishing vessels in West Africa and other regions, including obtaining vessel details (country flag, weight, gross tonnage, number IMO, etc.) suspected of IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, thereby providing enough information to be prosecuted by the government of Liberia.
In 2017, she obtained a Master of Science (MSc.) in Maritime Affairs with a special focus on ocean sustainability, governance and management from the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
Through extracurricular activities during her graduate studies, she built collegial relationships with her colleagues that earned her the privilege of serving as President of the World Association of Women in Maritime Universities (WMUWA) from October 2016 to November. 2017.
Always driven to gain further knowledge in the fisheries and marine sectors, she completed certificate programs in Ocean Governance and Sustainable Fisheries in October 2017 at Australian University and Rhodes University in Australia and in Mauritius respectively.
Based on his concrete academic credentials, professional skills and personal skills, President George Manneh Weah gave him his explicit trust, through a presidential nomination in February 2018, appointing Glassco to the office of CEO. and Chief Executive of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), and was reappointed and confirmed by the Liberian Senate for a second term as Chief Executive.
As Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NaFAA, she carries out the mandate enshrined in the Act establishing the Authority to Regulate All Fisheries and Fisheries Related Activities, including Aquaculture in the within the Republic of Liberia, and to maximize revenue generation. thus enabling an increased contribution to the national budget of the Republic of Liberia; as well as establishing and strengthening relations with international bodies aimed at attracting potential investments for the development of the fisheries sector.
Prior to her appointment by President Weah, Glassco, upon returning from graduate studies at the World Maritime University in Sweden, was hired by NaFAA as a Senior Fisheries Policy Analyst in 2017, with primary responsibilities for formulate appropriate policies to address current issues affecting the country’s fisheries sector, by effectively monitoring and evaluating the impact of policies implemented or in the process of being implemented, as well as providing advice and assistance political, legal and economic on investments and related matters in the country’s fisheries sector, among other tasks entrusted to him.
She also worked as a research intern for the International Maritime Organization (IMO), London, UK, in July 2017. While there, she was involved in conducting research, particularly in collecting, compiling and data analysis, and learned international best practices. practices to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing through a world-class resource centre.
She became familiar with the work of the IMO in relation to the concept of challenges caused by IUU fishing off the Liberian fisheries based on a comprehensive review and analysis, as well as acquired working knowledge of IMO instruments, in particular SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea), IMBSBC (International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code) and IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code).
At NaFAA, Glassco ensured Liberia’s full compliance with all international fisheries-related protocols and maintained Liberia’s membership in international and regional fisheries management organizations. In 2019, she secured Liberia’s accession and subsequent ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement, a legal instrument of the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations and has since been deposited at the Rome office. She championed the cause of a stricter Fisheries Management and Development Law in 2019, which was passed by the National Legislative Assembly and signed by the President, which led to the establishment of a new fisheries regulation and policy for Liberia.
Internationally, it has signed more than 3 bilateral agreements with countries such as Japan, Senegal, Ghana, Iceland and multilateral agreements such as the International Whaling Convention, the Cape, among others. These agreements have established confidence for investment in the fisheries sector in Liberia.
She is a strong advocate for women’s participation in the Maritime sector, a sector dominated by men. She has been very engaged with the International Maritime Organization, in particular to mainstream the inclusion of women in the fisheries and maritime sectors. In 2019, she organized the local chapter of Women In Maritime Africa (WIMAFRICA) , Liberia Chapter, a regional maritime women’s organization, where she was the 1st President.
In 2021, with the assistance of the African Union – Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), she established the Liberia Chapter of the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFishNET), a continental organization of women in the fish trade. . The institution provides support to women in the fish trade across the continent and improves fishmongers’ incomes.