By Emeka Umejei – Reporting From The Gambia – Tim Bostock, Fisheries advisor to United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has disclosed that mismanagement of fisheries cost African countries between $2-$5billion annually.
Bostcok made the statement at the opening ceremony of the 1St African conference of African Ministers of Fisheries and Aquaculture taking place at Sheraton Hotel, Gambia from September20-24. “Africa may be losing the potential to harvest some $2-$5billion of economic returns every year as a direct outcome of mismanagement of fisheries,” Bostock stated. Stating further, Babstock stressed that Illegal fishing alone accounts for removing fish valued at some $1billion from the waters of Sub-Saharan Africa every year. Lamenting the plight of fishery sector, Bostock regretted that despite being Africa’s most renewable natural asset, fisheries is yet to capture attention of many donors and national governments in the region.
“Despite being one of Africa’s most valuable renewable natural assets, and inspite of the threats to their integrity, it seems strange that fisheries consistently fail to capture the serious attention of many donors and national governments,” Bostock lamented.
Proffering the way forward, Bostock noted that better governance and effective monitoring are requisite for development of fisheries on the continent. “Without doubt, better fisheries governance and management, combined with effective monitoring, improved market access and trade, must play an integral in development of the fisheries sector,” Bostock stated However, Bostock stressed that the failure of fishery to generate wealth is not limited to African countries. “ The failure of fisheries to generate wealth and contribute sustainably to national growth is far from being just an African problem,” Bostock added.
Corroborating Bostcok,Dr.Babagana Ahmadu, Representative of Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) to The Gambia,noted that fisheries is vital to African agricultural sector because according to him, over 10million Africans derive livelihood from the industry.
“The important role of fisheries in the African agricultural sector is highlighted by the fact that approximately 10million Africans derive their livelihood from the fishing industry and are employed in different entry points of the fishing value chain,” Babagana stated. According to Babagana, the export value of fisheries on the continent has hit $2.7bn annually and has become a vital contributor to the food and nutrition security of millions of Africans.
On her part, commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, Tumusile Rhoda Peace stated that African countries need to put in place requisite policy frames works to check activities of illegal fishery on the continent “I am convinced that we need to put in place robust strategies and policies to check the wanton pilferage of our aquatic resources through illegal and unreported activities in our waters,” Tumusile said “There are a lot of efforts already marshaled in this direction and I call on you to accelerate the process that will enable the next round of consultations to attain our desired goals.”
Speaking in the same vein,Chief executive of NEPAD Planning and coordinating Agency,(NPC),Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, expressed hope that the conference will be able to come up with recommendations that will accelerate development of the fisheries sector on the continent. “Fisheries are important component of the Agricultural sector in Africa; therefore ,I am confident that over the next 2days ,you are going to come up with the clear recommendations necessary to accelerate the development of the sub-sector,” Mayaki stated. In his remark, Lamin Kaba bajo, Gambian Minister of fisheries, water resources and national assembly, stressed that there is need for an agreement to ensure consistency between existing fisheries initiatives at regional and national levels.
“There is need for an agreement to ensure far greater consistency between existing fisheries initiatives at regional and national levels inter alia by assisting the regional economic communities ,regional fisheries bodies and national member states to translate the NEPAD fisheries action plan into more coherent regional and national development strategies which can respond effectively to regional and national needs,” Lamin advocated .