The Chairman of the Isle of Man’s International Development Committee has been invited by the World Bank to assist a review of its multimillion-pound fisheries support project in Sierra Leone.
Phil Gawne MHK is travelling to Freetown this week to take part in talks to determine the most effective use of funding aimed at combating illegal fishing and strengthening regulation in the industry.
His presence at a series of high-level negotiations has been specifically requested by the task team leading the World Bank’s West Africa Regional Fisheries Project.
The invitation is recognition of the friendship and trust Mr Gawne has established with senior politicians in Sierra Leone, in particular Mr Alieu Momodu Pat-Sowe, the Minister of Fisheries
and Marine Resources.
The World Bank is seeking to support a sustainable fisheries management programme in the West African country, and meetings will focus on the effectiveness and transparency of the proposed funding.
Mr Gawne will be asked to provide his insight, both as a long-serving fisheries minister and as someone with experience of working with politicians and subsistence fishermen in Sierra Leone.
He said: ‘It is an honour to be invited by the World Bank to contribute to these important negotiations. This reflects the fact that the Isle of Man is looked upon as a key partner by the World Bank in terms of its fisheries programme in Sierra Leone. We have a common goal and that is to help some of the poorest people in the world to trade their way out of poverty. There are issues to be addressed around how best to achieve a well-run, well-regulated fishery and I hope to play my part in finding a positive way forward.’
During his short visit to Sierra Leone, Mr Gawne will also take the opportunity to evaluate the progress of projects supported by the Isle of Man’s International Development Committee (IDC).
The Isle of Man gifted a fisheries protection vessel to the Sierra Leone Government in 2012 and has provided a satellite monitoring system for the local fishing fleet.
That assistance is helping to protect poor coastal communities from the blight of illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, and is part of the long-term partnership agreement between the Isle of Man and Sierra Leone, with the focus on education, training and capacity building programmes.
Mr Gawne said: ‘Our work in Sierra Leone has contributed to an estimated 35% increase in local landings, netting an additional $16 million in earnings for the country’s fishermen. The way we target our support strengthens the Isle of Man’s ability to help those in poverty become more self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign aid.’
The £950 cost of Mr Gawne’s brief visit is being met by the portion of the annual Sierra Leone partnership agreement allocated for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
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