The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) country representative has said an estimated 200,000 people are directly and indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods.
She added that estimated catches from the artisanal sub-sector in 2015 was 53,000 tonnes.
Perpetua Katepa-Kalala made this statement recently during the signing ceremony of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) Project, on support to enhancing the capacity of youth and women for employment in aquaculture, with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.
The project seeks to establish a solid base for the provision of and access to good quality fingerlings and feed, technical and technological know-how, and managerial and other skills to farmers and officers in order to turn aquaculture into an economically viable activity.
It would also be financially self-sustaining and be an employment-generating sustainable enterprise, a pre-requisite for the sector to develop in a sustainable manner and make a difference in people’s lives.
The project would also contribute to FAO Blue Growth Initiative, the main goal of which is to improve fish supply for food and nutrition through more efficient and sustainable use of aquaculture resources.
According to her, FAO recognises the fast-growing contribution aquaculture is making to food security, hence providing technical assistance through the implementation of the code of conduct for responsible fisheries, which promotes sustainable aquaculture development, especially in developing countries, through better environmental performance of the sector, through health management and biosecurity.
She also asserted that aquaculture, probably the fastest growing food-producing sector, now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the world’s food fish.
The FAO country representative further stated that the overall growth in aquaculture production remains relatively strong owing to the increasing demand for food fish among most producing countries.
FAO estimates that the world’s food fish aquaculture production rose by 5.8 per cent to 70.5 million tonnes in 2013, and it employs some 23 million workers, 16 million directly and about 6.5 million indirectly, she said.
On the potential of aquaculture in The Gambia, the FAO official said there is a huge potential to develop commercial and small-scale aquaculture in The Gambia.
She added that The Gambia enjoys comparative advantages in that the country is characterised by marine, brackish and fresh water regimes.
Though The Gambia’s aquaculture is underdeveloped, there are opportunities for accelerated and sustained growth through the availability and level of technology, availability of production inputs, support facilities and services, among others, she stated.
She noted that almost all the fish farms in The Gambia are earthen or cement/concrete ponds. There are still potentials for other technologies, including ice-cum-fish culture, cage, pen, raceway, tank aquaculture and commercial shrimp production technologies.