A five-day training course on coastal and marine ecosystems management and co-management of fisheries resources, under the WADAF project, has been held to strengthen good governance of fisheries activities within the professional organization of artisanal fisheries in the West African sub-region.
The training, held from 5 to 9 August 2016 at the NaNA conference hall, was conducted by WADAF, targeting Anglophone African countries, including The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
The Executive Director of the West African Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries (WADAF), Moussa Mbengue, in remarks delivered on the occasion, said the regional body is represented in seven member countries of the sub-region, including The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
The WADAF regional project aims to enhance the professional skills of organizations of fish workers and their autonomy, in order to improve their ability to influence public policy on fishing in the seven countries covered by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).
Mr Mbenga noted that the training of fisheries stakeholders in general and the artisanal fisheries, in particular, is a precondition for their effective participation in public fisheries policies and sustainability of fisheries.
“In West Africa,” he added, “the fisheries sector in general and artisanal fisheries, in particular, plays socio-cultural economic and environmental functions.”
It contributes significantly to the creation of jobs, wealth as well as food security of countries, providing most of the requirements in animal protein for the population, he added.
“In this system, we note that they don’t have the required skills to read and understand the environment in connection with the complexity of the fisheries system to manage their organizations to solve problematic situations, to formulate and carry out advocacy messages and fit into sub-regional, regional and international markets of fishery products.”
Faced with this situation, he went on, governments and development partners have embarked on fisheries co-management experience that encourages and creates conditions for active participation of actors and stakeholders.
Dawda Saine, programme coordinator for WADAF Gambia and executive secretary for NASCOM-The Gambia, speaking on the occasion, said they were proud to be partnering with WADAF to implement “such an important project in The Gambia”.
The fisherman and fish processors tackled a lot of challenges due to lack of capacity building and financial management, but when WADAF started working with them they did gain a lot of support and their projects are fully operational benefitting the local fishing communities, especially the youths, he said.
“We are really proud to gain from such an important project,” he stated.