UL, NaFAA Break Grounds For Fishery Center of Excellence

UL, NaFAA Break Grounds For Fishery Center of Excellence

The University of Liberia (UL) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) have broken grounds for the construction of a Regional Center of Excellence for Fishery Science and Governance at UL.

The ceremony was held at Lake View on UL’s Fendall Campus on Friday, July 28, 2023.

Through the support of the World Bank, US$1.8m has already been mobilized for the construction work, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it can be counted on for everything needed in Fishery, Agriculture, and Forestry.

The President of the University of Liberia Prof. Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr, said the Center will serve as a hub for cutting-edge research, knowledge dissemination, capacity building, and policy development in fishery science and governance.

“Our vision is to empower a new generation of experts and leaders who will be equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, and ethical values to tackle the present issues in Fishery Management and Conservation in the Republic of Liberia,” he said. 

Dr. Nelson said the fishery sector is not only essential for providing food security to millions in the region but also plays a vital role in supporting the livelihoods of countless coastal communities.

“The establishment of the Regional Center of Excellence for Fishery Science and Governance represents a significant milestone in our journey toward academic excellence and positive impact on our society,” said Dr. Nelson.

According to Dr. Nelson, the groundbreaking ceremony is a testament to the University’s commitment to advancing knowledge and fostering collaborations that will drive sustainable development in the region.

Representing the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Deputy Director General for Administration, Mr. Augustine Manoballah, said the construction, which will contain the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and the Regional Center of Excellence for Fishery Science and Governance, stands at the value of US$1.8m.

“That money is mobilized, waiting, the World Bank people [are] here, they can attest to that, to ensure that the construction is done. So there will be no issue of delay,” said Mr. Manoballah.

Mr. Manoballah thanked the President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, and his Administration for the fullest support provided to the fishery sector in the face of challenges and competing priorities.

“If the government had not approved this activity, I can tell you, the World Bank would not send the money to NaFAA,” said Mr. Manoballah. 

“It is the government, and it is His Excellency who [has] given us numerous support, saw the need that it was important that this idea you people brought we can build on it, we can work on it to build the capacity of our young people to prepare for the future,” he continued.

Mr. Manoballah described fishery as an economic hub that can transform the country. He said it would be a serious challenge for Liberia if a generation is not prepared to manage the sector.

Mr. Manoballah reminded the FAO, the World Bank, and other partners that needed support would be required for the Regional Center to remain alive and active.

For his part, World Bank Acting Country Manager Mack Capehart Mulbah said the groundbreaking ceremony is a seed that promises to bear fruits based on the vital collaboration between the Government of Liberia and the Bank.

“We see the building as the point where most of the hard work for leapfrogging the sector for the future and its construction cannot be over-emphasized,” said Mr. Mulbah.

He assured the UL of the Bank’s commitment, support, and collaboration at every point of the journey. 

According to Mr. Mulbah, the World Bank has been engaged with the Government of Liberia across many areas of which fishery continues to remain key, adding that witnessing the groundbreaking was an honor.

He cited support for soft skills such as training of university students and graduates within the fishery sector as an important part of the projects on which the World Bank and NaFAA are working together.

FAO Assistant Representative for Programs Mr. Octavius T. Quarbo said his institution is a place of knowledge that can be counted on for everything needed in Fishery, Agriculture, and Forestry.

He noted that the FAO believes that the Center of Excellence provides a great opportunity to partner with UL and NaFAA.

Mr. Quarbo indicated that the FAO’s partnership with UL and NaFAA is to ensure that everything that is contextually relevant can be made available at the Center of Excellence.

In the welcome statement, UL Vice President for Administration Madam Benetta Joko Tarr said the groundbreaking for the Fisheries Center for Excellence is timely.

In a presentation, Bittar Construction Company representative Mr. Abu Sherif said he hoped that they would work collaboratively with all partners and stakeholders for the successful construction of the facilities.

Mr. Sherif disclosed that two structures will be built which include the academic building and the dormitory.

He said it will be a fenced two-story dormitory with bathrooms attached to each of the 14 bedrooms on each of the floors, along with dining areas, a driveway, and parking areas, among others. 

Also making a presentation, Mak Enterprise representative Mr. Moussa Abdul Karim said that both companies’ protocols safeguard not only good quality but with speedy construction through specifications and hand-in-hand with human rights.


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