The Federal Government has pledged to support the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea ( FCWC ) to achieve its goals for the benefit of the member states.
Dr Bukar Ibrahim, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, conveyed the assurance at the 10th Annual Ministerial Conference on FCWC in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ibrahim, who was represented by Mr Azeez Muyiwa, a Director in the ministry, said that the Federal Government would support the efforts of the committee to ensure that the fishery resources of the sub-region were sustainably exploited and managed.
“Today’s annual conference is unique because the organisation is celebrating its 10th anniversary of existence.
“The organisation’s excellent performance in fisheries management, promotion of fish trade, fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported ( IUU ) fishing and regional cooperation among the member countries cannot be overemphasised.
“The conference could not have come at a more auspicious time than now that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has redirected the focus of the Nigerian economy towards agriculture.
“Efforts at harnessing the huge potential of fisheries and aquaculture will no doubt give an added impetus to the realisation of our shared objectives in wealth creation, food and nutritional sector in the Gulf of Guinea,’’ he said.
Ibrahim, however, urged the participants to come up with a workable document that could be used to implement fishery development programmes that would be beneficial to the sub-region.
Mr Seraphin Dedi, the Secretary General of FCWC, said that if the public and private sectors and all partners in the fishery sector invested appreciable resources in fishery development projects, the sector would record significant improvement.
“If we are able to invest enough resources in the fishery sector, we may improve the contribution of fisheries to the food security, nutrition and the development of the sub-region.
“The fishery sector is one sector that is helping a lot in terms redistributing the value addition of the sector to the population. So, if we invest in fisheries, you are sure that it will affect the people of the region.
“If we look at the value chain of the fishery sector, we will discover that different people are involved in the system; by investing in the sector, you can touch all these people and facilitate the development of the region,’’ he said.
Dedi said that FCWC was the regional fisheries body that managed the fishery resources of the region which comprised six countries — Nigeria, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic.
“We are having this meeting in Nigeria, which is the conference of ministers.
“We use to meet once a year and move from one country to the other. Part of the focus of the current meeting is the celebration of the 10th anniversary of our existence.
“It means for the past 10 years, we have been working together as a body, sharing our experiences and implementing measures to combat illegal fishery in the region and manage our fishery resources.
“So after 10 years, we need to sit down and reflect on what we have done so far and how far we can go again.
“We have noted in our past discussions that investment in fisheries is not sufficient enough.
“So, in efforts to support our region’s development, we decided to choose `Investment for Growth and Sustainability in Fisheries in West Africa’ as the theme of this year’s conference,’’ he said.