Liberia is situated within the East Central Atlantic region of the Gulf of Guinea. With an Atlantic coastline of about 579 km and a continental shelf averaging 34 km in width, the marine fishing grounds of Liberia cover 186 322.2 km² within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).The fishing area extends from the shrimp rich Shebro grounds bordering Sierra Leone in the west, to the Cavalla River Basin bordering Côte d’Ivoire in the east, and the tuna pelagic fishing grounds extending out into the Atlantic Ocean.
More than 50% of the Liberian population lives along the coastal area, where the predominant occupation is fishing. The coastal (marine) fishery comprises both artisanaland industrial fisheries.
Liberia’s continental shelf area has considerable marine fish species. The most common of these are Engraulis encrasicolus, Sardinella aurita, Decapterus Spp. Caranx Spp and Ethmalosa fimbriata. The main oceanic pelagic resources are tuna and tuna-like species such as yellowfin tuna, bonito and marlin. Demersal fish species such as Lutjanidae, Sparidae and Dentex Spp are also found in the marine waters of the country and are harvested on commercial basis. Crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs and lobsters are less abundant but are of much higher value than finfish species, and are targeted for the export market.
Executive Order #39 ‘Delimiting the Maritime Zones of the Republic of Liberia’ establishes sovereignty over the Territorial Sea of Liberia at 12 nautical miles (NM), the Contiguous Zone at 24 NM, and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 NM from the baseline. However, as Liberia is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the EEZ has been legally recognized as in place since 2008.
The Division of Marine Fisheries is charged with the responsibility to coordinate, supervise and monitor all marine capture fisheries activities in the Republic of Liberia.
- Enforcement of both artisanal and industrial fishing activities via the Regulations Relating to Fisheries, Fishing and Related Activities for the Marine Fisheries Sector in the Republic of Liberia (Fisheries Regulations)
- License industrial vessels; register artisanal vessels
- Oversee the import and export of fish into and from Liberia
- Collect catch data and distribute to statistic division
- Collect general information on landing sites in Liberia
- Monitoring Control and Survelliance (MCS)