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 Director Denies Issuing Vessels Licence To Operate

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Momodou Posted - 23 Sep 2019 : 14:23:08
Fisheries Director Denies Issuing Chinese Vessels Licence To Operate

By Makutu Manneh & Mustapha Jallow

The country’s director of Fisheries said his department has not issued any permit to Chinese fishing vessels to land and operate in Mandinary.

Famara Darboe has on 20th September 2019, denied the claim that his department issued license to Qunlong Fishing Enterprise, a Chinese company, to discharge their catches in Mandinary.

“I did not give any license to Chinese vessels to land their fishes in Mandinary,” he remarked.

The Director declined to give details regarding the issue.

Staff of Qunlong Company have told Foroyaa they obtained approval from Fisheries, National Environment Agency and Department of Parks and Wildlife to land their catches at the Mandinary Park.

The management of Qunlong said they renew their license with the Fisheries Department every three months.

According to a license shown to these reporters, these vessels have the authority under the Fisheries Act 2007 and Fisheries Regulation 2008 to land at Mandinary after fishing. Stamps and signatures by staff of the Fisheries Department were seen on the license. Lamin Saidy, the manager of Qunlong said staff of the Fisheries Department sometimes go to the area for inspection.

“Every three months, we pay three hundred thousand (D300, 000) to Fisheries for the two vessels,’’ Saidy indicated.

He said: “The first day I met the owners of the vessels, I told them (the Chinese Company) to meet with Fisheries, Parks & Wellfield, NEA and GPA before they start operation because it is illegal to operate without consulting these authorities,’’ adding “I also advised them that they cannot operate without permit from the department of wildlife.’’

Saidy, who is also a Wetland Officer in Mandinary, said the proprietors of Qunlong were later issued licenses to operate. He added the company regularly renew their license every three months with the authorities at Fisheries.

“The proprietors of the vessels have also signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the community through its VDC, to indicate that the vessels will be catching fish in the ocean and discharging the catches on their shore, which they agreed to. Concerns were raised by the community that they want the area to be clean,’’ he said.

Saidy said the Company pays twenty thousand dalasis every month as duty to the community through the village development committee.

Construction of Fishing Vessels in Mandinary

Saidy said: “These new vessels would start to operate soon because we are working together with the Fisheries Department and the Department of Immigration.’’

“Fisheries used to send a team to inspect the area as well as the vessels – so the authorities are fully aware of our activities,’’ said the manager.

He continued: “We catch fish at zone-9 in the ocean. A fishing inspector from the Fisheries Department monitors the activities of the crew so that they do not fish at an authorised place, therefore we are not working illegally.’’

“We supply calamari, butter-fish and conkare to hotels, but during the off session, we normally process our catches,’’ he said.

While at the landing site, the reporters noticed that fishes like butterfish, ladyfish, calamari and other species of fish were discharged by the crew of one of the vessels.

Kawsu Jammeh and Abdoulie, both staff of the National Parks & Wildlife, said the Chinese company has not consulted them before they commenced operations. However, the duo added their institution is aware of the activities been carried out at Mandinary by Qunlong Fishing Enterprise.

“When we noticed their presence, we approached them and invited them to our office, but they told us that they have authority from ‘the top’ to land their catch at Mandinary,’’ the two said.

“We signed an agreement with them. All we did was to tell them what to do and what not to do at the Park,’’ Jammeh said, adding “If I’ve the power to ask them to leave, I will do that, but since we have policy conflict among stakeholders, we can’t do so,’’ he added.

“We only issue licenses to hunters, but not vessels to land in our parks,’’ Jammeh said.

Dodou Trawally, the Executive Director of the National Environment Agency (NEA) said: “If they are operating with license, NEA would give an environmental approval. But before we give them approval, they must satisfy certain conditions.’’

Trawally said when he heard about the activities been carried out in Mandinary by the Chinese, the first thing he did was to go to the department of Fisheries to confirm the issue.

“Authorities at Fisheries and Parks & Wildlife are aware of their operation because I went to Fisheries to confirm what is happening there (at Mandinary). So, if I am doing that, it means I’ve been to the place (Mandinary) and saw things myself,’’ he said.

He couldn’t confirm whether the Chinese vessels have approval from the NEA. He added that his agency usually monitors the activities of the Chinese company through a routing system.

Lamin Cham, the manager of Black Pearl Seafood Restaurant Lodge in Mandinary (near the fish landing site) said his lodge has been operating since 2002.

He accused the Chinese of throwing rubbish into the sea.

He remarked: The noise caused by the engines of their vessels disturbed our guests.”

He added there were instances when their guests had to leave the area because of the noise generated by the activities of the company.

He showed these reporters a copy of a letter they wrote to the Fisheries Ministry, National Environment Agency and Parks and Wildlife complaining about the activities of Qunlong Company. He said this was when the Chinese were building vessels in the area.

He explained that shortly after their complaint was lodged with the relevant authorities, personnel of the Gambia navy went to Mandinary sea side to inspect the area.

“Last season, we lost a lot of tourists as a result of the heavy noise caused by the activities of the Chinese company and I believe the same will happen this year as well,” he said.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries, Mr Malang Darboe, also confirmed that he is aware of the operations of Qunlong, but was quick to add he has no knowledge whether Fisheries issued license to them. He referred Foroyaa to the Permanent Secretary for further comments.

An official of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity, said the ongoing operation of Qunlong is news to him. He said places reserved for Parks and Wildlife are areas that attract tourists and should be preserved.

Foroyaa has learnt that the captains of the Qunlong vessels were working for Golden Lead after which they parted ways with them. The Chinese captains, Foroyaa learnt, began work with Qunlong sometime in February 2019.

“They were working together with Golden Lead for the past year, and we used to land our catch here and transport it to the Fishmeal company in Gunjur. But these people had a problem with Golden Lead and they decided to go on their own,’’ their agent added.

The agent also confirmed that personnel of the Gambia Navy came to Mandinary and inspected the area, but declined to give further details.

Alhage Fafa Ceesay, the village head of Mandinary said he was not initially informed that the Chinese will use their Park for landing.

“It was my nephew who saw them and informed me about their activities,” he said, adding “We used this park for tourism and traditional activities, which is not happening now,’’ he said.

The Mandinary Village Development Committee (VDC) public relations officer (PRO) Yusupha Touray, said the vessels operated for months before they came to know about their activities.

He said: “When we approached the vessel owners, they showed us a document from Fisheries which indicated that they were authorised to be there (at the landing site).’’

PRO continued: “We’ve signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qunlong Enterprise for them to pay royalty to the community for using our land.’’

He said the Chinese promised to construct their clinic gate and the road linking the main road to the park, but added these promises were not signed and were yet to be fulfilled by the Company.

Efforts were made to speak to the Chinese, but to no avail.
7   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
toubab1020 Posted - 18 Oct 2019 : 22:56:20
It would appear that along the way there has been a "business decision" that has caused a great deal of confusion at a political & international level this is a prime canderdate for a "CLARIFICATION" and MAYBE an in depth investigation by the Gambian authorities.
I am sure that Foroyaa will keep their finger on the pulse for further developments.
Momodou Posted - 18 Oct 2019 : 20:37:00
Chinese Embassy Reacts To Foroyaa News Story

Foroyaa: October 18, 2019

The Chinese Embassy in The Gambia has reacted to a news story carried on Foroyaa newspaper which indicated that the Navy in collaboration with Ministry of Fisheries and Sea Shepperd, intercepted three Chinese fishing vessels

See below the press release from the Chinese Embassy;

The Ministry of Fisheries of The Gambia has confirmed that the detained so-called “Chinese fishing vessels” were neither from China nor registered in China. They are actually the vessels registered in The Gambia, and belong to some Gambian fishery companies, which received partial investment from Chinese individuals.

The China-Gambia economic cooperation has been developing rapidly, and investment from China has been promoting employment and development in The Gambia. The investment in the fishery industry offer good working opportunities to more than 400 Gambian workers with decent salaries and working conditions. They also help increase revenue to the Gambian Government, and contribute to the Gambian society in boosting employment and empowering the youth#12290;

The Chinese Government and Chinese Embassy require that all Chinese investors in The Gambia should abide by local law and regulations, implement relevant corporation social responsibilities including promotion of environment protection, green and sustainable development, etc. Regarding the case of the vessels, we hope that relevant Gambian authorities would treat the case in accordance with law and regulations.

We are looking forward to a continuous fast and sound development of China-Gambia practical cooperation.
toubab1020 Posted - 15 Oct 2019 : 22:27:51
"“They (the vessels) are at the custody of the Navy until they pay the fine,’’ he said, adding: “We’re not denying them to fish in the Gambian waters, but what we want is for them to comply, and if they comply, they will make live easy for everyone.’’

I am certain that all of Gambia and the Chinese are waiting for this matter to be resolved as soon as possible,so that life and trade can continue , Fish and fish products are essential but must be regulated.
Momodou Posted - 15 Oct 2019 : 19:56:56
Gambia Intercept 3 Chinese vessels for illegal fishing in Mandinari

Foroyaa: October 15, 2019

By Mustapha Jallow & Makutu Manneh

Gambian authorities on October 9 intercepted three Chinese fishing vessels for illegal fishing in a restricted zone in the waters of Mandinari.

The vessels owned by Qunlong Fishing Enterprise were intercepted by the Gambian authorities with assistance of Sea Shepherd crew.
This came barely weeks after the Fisheries Director shrugged off claims that his institution issued a license to Chinese vessels to land in Mandinari.

The 3 vessels have been taken into the custody of the Gambia Navy in Banjul.

DE-HONG 1, DE-HONG 2 and DE-HONG 3 vessels are in state custody for illegal fishing in Gambian water.

Lamin Saidy, the manager of Qunlong Fishing said their three remaining vessels were intercepted and suspended from operation.
“As for now, we’re no longer operating in Mandinari, because our 3 remaining vessels were suspended as a result of issues relating to documents,’’ he said.

“The agent representing these vessels in Banjul, is currently working with the authorities to ensure that the matter is resolved so that our vessels would be allowed to resume operation,’’ he added.
Army spokesperson, Major Lamin K. Sanyang confirmed the story. He said the Sea Shepherd crew reported the issue of suspected illegal fishing activities around Mandinari waters involving 3 Chinese vessels.

“The joint operation went and arrested them for their illegal fishing. The trio vessels are now in the custody of the Navy,’’ he said.
According to GAF PRO, the interception came into effect following a joint operation led by Sea Shepherd crew, inspectors from the Department of Fisheries and Gambia Navy.

Dr. Bamba A.M Banja, the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Fisheries, also confirmed that these vessels were intercepted for their violation of Fisheries legislation by fishing in a wrong zone.
However, he said when the joint operation team intercepted the vessels, they were escorted by personnel of the Navy to the sea port. He said while they were there, they were under the close supervision of the Gambia Navy until a decision was reached by the authorities.
“Fishing without a license is the worst crime because you can even lose your fishing vessel when you’re caught,’’ Fisheries PS remarked.
“They (the vessels) are at the custody of the Navy until they pay the fine,’’ he said, adding: “We’re not denying them to fish in the Gambian waters, but what we want is for them to comply, and if they comply, they will make live easy for everyone.’’

Sea Shepherded Conservation Society, an international non-profit organization in partnership with the government of The Gambia, are working on tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa.
toubab1020 Posted - 26 Sep 2019 : 01:07:33
"The Director declined to give details regarding the issue."

I wonder why this was?

Momodou Posted - 25 Sep 2019 : 21:29:20
Fishers Express Concerns Over Chinese Vessels In Mandinary

Foroyaa: September 25, 2019

By Matuku Manneh & Mustapha Jallow

Fishers in Mandinary have told Foroyaa that their catch has declined significantly as a result of the advent of Chinese fishing vessels in the territorial waters of The Gambia.

“If these Chinese vessels continue Landing their catch in this small town (mandinary), it will harm our local economy. We will continue to live in abject poverty. Sometimes I return home empty handed,” Mustapha Ceesay, a local fisher told Foroyaa.

They said their canoes cannot march the Chinese vessels which have capacity to catch large quantity of fish in a single fishing trip. According to them, their source of livelihood is at stake as a result of the competition they are facing from the Chinese.

A 69- year -old local-fisherman, Mustapha Ceesay said he has been fishing since his youthful days but the advent of the Chinese vessels in their area affected them negatively.

Before the advent of Qunlong vessel company in Mandinary, Ceesay said he used to catch lady-fish, red snapper and other species.

“These foreign vessels are making money here and it’s not fair them to ruin our income,’’ he added.

He blamed the authorities for what he called the poor enforcement of the fisheries regulations, which he said if enforced, will enhance the protection of the livelihood of local fishers and sea resources.

“Landing their catch will have drastic impact on the future generation because some of the species would become extinct,’’ he remarked.

Phillip Senghor 35, abandoned fishing for carpentry.

“Our rights over our waters have been ‘seized’,” he lamented. “If a fishing vessel comes to a community and start landing without the authorities taking any step, what power do we have to send them away?’’ Phillip asked.

“My father fed, schooled and clothed me through fishing. I also took it up as a profession to feed and school my kids and feed my family here. I enjoyed fishing, because I was making money and supplying community members. But now, no client comes and ask for fish because I quit the trade,’’ he remarked.

He urged the authorities to relocate the Chinese fishers to another landing site so that he can return to fishing.

Fatou Jallow, a widow of seven children said she has been struggling to feed her family as a fish monger.

“I need to provide for my children. They lost their father some years back and they need good education,’’ the single mother said.

She decried what she called the exorbitant cost of fish saying she buys fish at a wholesale price of D1100 or D1200 and sells at a reasonable cost, thereby making little or no profit. She called on the authorities to consider their plight.

Foroyaa also caught-up with Nana Sillybeh, a fishmonger from Bakau. She lamented the difficulty she faces in her transactions with the Chinese crew regarding the price of fish.

“I buy a container of fish at D4000 or D5000 sometimes, and would make little or no profit when I sell them by retail,’’ she said.

Mr Famara Darboe, the country’s Director of Fisheries, said his department has not issued any permit to Chinese fishing vessels to land and operate in Mandinary.

“I did not give any licence to Chinese vessels to land their fishes in Mandinary,” he remarked.

The Director declined to give details regarding the issue.

The staff of Qunlong Company have told Foroyaa they obtained approval from the Department of Fisheries, National Environment Agency and Department of Parks and Wildlife to land their catches at the Mandinary Park. The management of Qunlong said they renew their licence with the Fisheries Department every three months.
toubab1020 Posted - 23 Sep 2019 : 17:06:49
"Efforts were made speak to the Chinese, but to no avail."

Not surprising the Chinese always have to take instructions from an authorised spokesperson before making ANY information public , this has been the case where Chinese businesses in Gambia has been highlighted and questions asked.

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