The West African Association for the development of Artisanal fisheries (WADAF), in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries yesterday commenced a five-day advocacy meeting on fishing, fish wholesaling and artisanal processing of fisheries products, at the Oyster Association Office in Old Jeshwang.
The forum was organized in collaboration with GAMFIDA, Umbrella Professional Organisation (UPO) and project partner at the national level.
It was set to train leaders, national correspondent, UPO and fisheries administration, and is expected to be extended to other professional organisations actively engaged in artisanal fisheries.
The objective of the forum was to identify an advocacy theme based on a diagnosis of the sector which highlights a specific problem of concern that justifies the need for advocacy action at national level for each profession.
The Executive Secretary of WADAF, Musa Mbengue, said the forum was organized to refocus the advocacy component that would focus on the project such as fishing, fish wholesaling and artisanal processing of fisheries products.
He added that it would enable Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organisations (AFPOs) to express their concerns to decision makers in a clear and structured way.
He commended the Government of The Gambia through the Department of Fisheries for always partnering with the WADAF since the beginning of the project in June 2015.
He urged participants to participate fully during the sessions and bring out their challenges to ensure that they are forwarded to the level of government to further ensure they are addressed.
Giving an overview of the project, the WADAF Project coordinator, Aminata Mbengue, said the project is a three-year project (December 2015- November 2018) co-funded by FDA, CCFD/Terre Solitaire, FPH, and WADAF as part of a perspective to strengthen fisheries governance in west Africa and improve the involvement of artisanal fisheries professional organizations in public fisheries policies and fisheries sustainable development.
According to her, the project aimed at strengthening the professional and political skills of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organisations (AFPOs) as well as their autonomy in order to improve their capacities to influence public fisheries in the 7 countries covered by the Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).
In this context, she said, several activities have been initiated for the benefit of artisanal fisheries professional organizations to which The Gambia was not an exception.
Madam Mbengue further spoke on the expected outcome of the forum, noting that participants were informed about the situation of fisheries in general and artisanal fisheries sector in Senegal in particular along with the public policies that govern the sector.
She noted that it would help participants know the problems or constraints that hinder the sustainable development of the various professions found in the artisanal fisheries sector, including fishing, fish wholesaling and artisanal processing of fish products, advocacy message for each profession are structures around a well-identified central problem.
She indicated that the modalities of their implementation proposed a synthesis report of the advocacy forum with presentations and production of advocacy themes and implementation strategies.
Adama Sanneh of the Fisheries Department commended the WADAF for the initiative and urged participants to make good use of the forum and to implement the knowledge gained at the grassroots level.