Freetown — Owing to the indiscriminate and massive hunting, killing and sale of the West African Manatee (Mammy Wata), an endangered aquatic mammal, key Fisheries and Marine stakeholders, including Paramount Chiefs, Councillors, hunters and fishermen from various parts of the country, have at a one-day consultative workshop vowed to assist government and partners in implementing strategies that would enhance the conservation and management of the mammal.
Organised by the ministry of Fisheries in collaboration with Wetlands International and the Regional Coastal and Marine Conservation Programme for West Africa, the main thrust of the workshop was to examine the findings of a national survey conducted on the status of the marine mammal and map the way forward to developing a national plan of action for its conservation and management.
Giving his keynote address, the minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Soccoh Kabia reminded the participants of his ministry’s mandate, including the development and management of all marine resources in the country.
He condemned the illegal hunting, killing and sale of endangered marine species and registered government’s determination to strengthen his ministry’s capacity to fully enforce the Fisheries Act of 1994 and Regulations of 2007.
He underscored the country’s rich fisheries and marine resources potentials and entreated all to help in conserving them. He appreciated the roles of development partners including Wetlands International and PRCM and thanked them for their support.
A representative from Wetlands International, Linniet John, while giving a brief historical background of the Manatee Conservation Programme in Sierra Leone, lamented the mammal’s high mortality rate, which she said was due to hunting and other illegal means. The workshop, she said, was also held to establish a realistic framework that would contribute to its conservation, enhance public awareness and establish mitigation plan as well as identifying action groups for the mammal’s conservation.
Acting Director of Fisheries, Arnold Hotanga Robbie, warned that if necessary actions were not taken, the already vulnerable mammal will disappear from the face of the earth.
Graphic presentations on the status of the mammal and other conservation issues were made by the acting project coordinator, Victor Conteh and other experts.
The African Manatee also known as Sea Cow is a large aquatic mammal that feeds exclusively on grass and found in coastal and inland waters on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.