Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yahya Jammeh mourns Gambia’s lack of fishing fleet, poor management

"Another principal constraint to development of the industrial fishery sub-sector is the lack of significant numbers of national industrial fishing trawlers,” says Mr Jammeh - (photo credit: Wikipedia)
In comparative terms, the artisanal fisheries sub-sector in The Gambia continues to flourish while the industrial fisheries sub-sector has not lived up to expectation – for what Yahya Jammeh said is “partly due to inadequate resources, finance and raw materials”.

The Gambia’s President believes the key issues that have not helped the development of the industrial fisheries sub-sector is poor management capacity at various levels of the industry.

In a statement read on his behalf by Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, the country’s Vice President during a Feb. 20, 2013 inauguration of the Bakoteh Fish Market, which said to worth US$22 million (over D600 million), Jammeh said: “Another principal constraint to development of the industrial sub-sector is the lack of significant numbers of national industrial fishing trawlers.”

Frustrating

“The need for adequate fishing fleet in The Gambia cannot be over-emphasized,” he said. “This is relevant given the fact that we have ‘Reciprocal Fishing Access Agreements’ signed with our neighbors in the sub-region and it is frustrating that we cannot exploit the quota allocated to us due to this lack of a fleet of national fishing vessels.”

The fisheries sector contributes approximately 4.2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product, GDP (the total value of goods and services that The Gambia produces in a year).
Yahya Jammeh (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

But Jammeh said “it is gratifying to know that the increase in export earnings attributable to fisheries products is due largely to efforts of women fish processors and exporters”.  

Major concern

Mr Jammeh said the government’s major concern is the conservation of the fisheries stocks as recent statistics indicated that fish stocks continue to decline, particularly the highly valued demersals.

This is partly due to over-fishing, which is aggravated by the use of inappropriate fishing methods as well as poaching culminating in the extermination of juvenile fish in our territorial waters, he argues.

“Thus, no effort will be spared to put an end to this menace,” he declared.

The Gambian leader pointed to the government-enacted Fisheries Regulations of 2008 and its conduct of sensitization and capacity building at community level with a view to strengthening surveillance of both the inland and coastal waters.

“Under the European Union sub-regional fisheries commission cooperation agreement, five million euros have been provided to the sub-regional maritime fisheries surveillance project based in Banjul to further reinforce monitoring, control and surveillance activities within the sub-region,” he explained.

According Jammeh, the government has invested heavily in fish preservation and in minimizing post harvest loss through the establishment of appropriate infrastructure at major fish landing sites throughout the country.

He believe this have contributed immensely in ensuring “food security” and “employment opportunities” for the people especially the youths.

Reduce post-harvest loss

“Fish is a primary source of animal protein in the diets of the vast majority of Gambians with an estimated national per capita consumption of 25 kilograms, which is highest in West Africa,” Mass Axi Gaye said.

The Gambia’s Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources cited research showing that an estimated 200, 000 people in the country are directly or indirectly employed in the fisheries sector.

Fishery products contribute immensely to gross value of export, he said.

However, he admitted that the growth and development of the fisheries sector depends on the sustainable exploitation of the resources and the availability of quality fish products for human consumption. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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