Banjul, Gambia – The Gambian government will continue to accord high priority to fisheries and aquaculture in its development agenda, Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, assured here at the weekend, citing the sector’s potentials and contributions to the promotion of the health of Gambians through good nutrition.
Mrs. Njie-Saidy made the pledge while addressing the opening session of the sub-regional fisheries commission, attended by ministers in charge of fisheries in West Africa.
She said the sector was also contributing to poverty reduction and employment creation for the population, adding that the sector’s contribution to Gambia’s GDP was estimated at 5 percent.
She said the figure was far below the expected optimal contribution to the GDP, promising that no effort would be spared by the government to attain a higher contribution rate in accordance with the Gambia vision 2020 and the PRSP II.
The Gambian VP stressed the role of women in the fishing sector, adding that women played active roles in fishing processes — ranging from catching to processing and marketing of fishes.
She said the major challenge within the fisheries sectors was ‘the conservation of our fisheries stock”.
Njie-Saidy said that recent statistics indicated that the fish stock continued to decline, particularly, the high value demersals, blaming the problem on over fishing, aggravated by the use of inappropriate fishing methods, poaching by unlicensed vessels and illegal fishing in the region’s territorial waters by unscrupulous fisheries operators.
“We should assume our responsibilities in the sea ports and leave no stone unturned to put a definite end to this menace”, she urged and called on the commission to strengthen the join surveillance to protect ‘our depleting fish stock particularly for countries like the Gambia with limited capacities in surveillance’.
She suggested that the commission should intensify its resource mobilization activities to build the needed capacities in member countries as required.
‘And to enhance competitiveness for the optimal utilization of our fish and fish product, the commission should again intensify arrangements with member countries for the speedy accreditation of the fishery laboratories to ensure better access to international markets,’ Njie-Saidy said.
According to her, the current fishing agreements are inequitable and consequently of little benefit to coastal states that own these invaluable God-given natural resources.
“International trade in fish and fishery products should be fair and equitable, and should not compromise the sustainable development of fisheries and responsible utilization of living aquatic resources”, she said.
She pointed out that there should not be any hidden barriers to trade which limits the consumer’s freedom of choice of supplier or that restricts market access.
Pana, 19 december 2010
Source: Afrique en ligne