Fish traders in Borno have expressed joy over resumption of activities at the Baga and Maiduguri fish markets, following the restoration of peace in the area.
A cross section of the traders on Saturday in Maiduguri said that the development would boost trade and stabilise fish prices.
Malam Amadu Na-Ai, said that trading had resumed fully at the two markets after they were closed down in the past three years due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
Na-Ai said that buyers were now coming from the southern parts of the country to buy fish in Maiduguri.
“Traders from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Aba are coming to buy fish here.
“Presently, we are enjoying high patronage and the market condition is good,” he said.
Another trader, Sadiq Kowanaka, added that the resumption of trading activities at the market had pushed prices down.
Kowanaka explained that prices were going down on daily basis due to improvement in the supply chain.
He said that a basket of dried fish was sold at N25, 000 as against its previous price of N40, 000.
“Fish prices have gone down by about 35 per cent following resumption of trading activities at the fish market,” he said.
Kowanaka, however, lamented that most the traders lost their capital due to the insurgency, and called for support to enable them to return to the trade.
Abubakar Gamandi, Chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Fishery Association, noted that the provision of modern fishing and conduct of weeds clearance exercise in the river would encourage fishing, reduce wastage and end scarcity of fishery products.
Gamandi said that lack of modern fishing tools and processing equipment was a major obstacle militating against sustainable development in the sector.
He said the Boko Haram insurgency had negatively affected the trade and resulted in acute scarcity of fishery products.
“The insurgents had destroyed canoes, tools and ravaged fishing communities in the Lake Chad basin.
“In the wake of the insurgents’ attacks, about 204 fishing communities were destroyed while about two million fishermen were displaced.
“The activities of the insurgents disrupted fishing in the past four years forcing thousands of people out of job,” he said.
The chairman said that some of the fishermen had returned to resume their activities sequel to the lifting of ban on fish trade by the military.
He, however, lamented that members of the union could not carry on with fishing due to lack of canoes and other tools.
“Initially, we relied on wooden canoes and local tools, but they were vandalised by the insurgents.
“Devastating weeds had also outgrown in the river which made fishing practically impossible,” he said.
Gamandi said the grass obstructed free flow of water and destroyed most of the fish species.
He said the association had so far registered over 3, 000 fishermen in the affected areas and conducted weeds clearance, to enable them to resume fishing activities.
Gamandi listed the affected communities to include Buduram, Doronbaga and Baga.
The chairman called on the federal and state governments to provide the necessary equipment to enable more fishermen to re-join the trade.
Gamandi also called on the Lake Chad Basin Development Commission to conduct weeds clearance exercise to save the aquatic species from extinction.
“The military are providing support to fishermen to enable them to conduct their activities without fear of attack by the insurgents.
“They also provide personnel to escort the fishermen to carry their fish to the market in Maiduguri,” Gamandi added.
Baga is one of the major fish trading centres in the North-East, where various types of fish are bought and transported to other parts of the country.
There is also a big population of fishermen in the area due to the availability of fish and other aquatic species in the lake.