National Energy Globe Award Sierra Leone (overall winner)

Submitted by: The Environmental Justice Foundation
Implemented country: Sierra Leone
Title: Ending Illegal Fishing in Sierra Leone

Illegal fishing is destroying the maritime eco-system in Sierra Leone, decimating the fish stock and destroying the livelihood of the coastal inhabitants. More than two years ago the EJ-Foundation introduced a surveillance program in Sherbro Island. Locals are checking on illegal fishermen who were previously reported by authorities. The project is very successful and cost-efficient and is showing great results. Industrial fishing is becoming less and no bottom trawling was reported during the last three months.

Illegal fishing is a great environmental hazard because environmental laws go unobserved. These fishermen work without permits and they even fish in protected areas where they destroy maritime life. They kill turtles and sharks. Africa is losing one billion US dollars every year as a result of illegal fishing. In Sierra Leone alone it’s 29 million dollars. Since the coastal inhabitants live off fishing it is of supreme importance to keep the fish stock healthy. Otherwise there is no income for these people. The local fishermen were also informed of the fact that the ocean doesn’t belong to just anyone and that people need to understand how bad illegal fishing really is. This newly-found sense of responsibility has positive consequences for everyone because now the fishermen understand that they have rights and must protect these rights in order to secure their future source of income. Now the local fishermen feel like an important part of the fight against illegal fishing.

“I believe it is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.”

Steve Trent