There are indications that Nigeria and others urgently need to implement transformational changes in fishery management and governance to shore up annual fishery production by 16.5 million tonnes and annual revenues from fishing by $32 billion, a report from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has revealed.
The FMARD report, cited by this newspaper, was mailed to the agric ministry by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
It indicated that rebuilding of overfished stocks in Africa as a continent urgently needed to be reviewed with Nigeria expected to play a leading role because of its aquatic territorial ambience.
Particularly, the report explained that overfishing and uneven implementation of international instruments for sustainable fisheries had been a cause of concern for FAO, stressing that urgent implementation of transformational change in fishery would have a positive economic impact on Nigeria and other economies in the continent.
It stated that one third of the world’s marine fish stocks were overfished today, compared to only 10 per cent in 1974.
The report notes that despite some recent improvements in fishery management and stock status in developed countries, the proportion of stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels had decreased significantly in developing countries.
Moreover, some 30 per cent of countries still have a low or medium implementation record of the key international instruments combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and 20 per cent of countries have a low or medium implementation record of the key instruments to promote access of small-scale fishers to productive resources, services and markets.
“All countries need to urgently implement transformational changes in fishery management and governance. This would also have a positive economic impact; overall, rebuilding overfished stocks could increase annual fishery production by 16.5 million tonnes and annual revenues from fishing by $32 billion,” the report stated.
However, the report also explained that foreign fishing vessels, many from China, prowl the waters off West Africa every day, thereby threatening the region’s economy.
It explained that they capture millions of fish – catches that hitherto used to go to local boats. The fish are then shipped to China, Europe and the United States, satisfying a global demand for seafood and fuelling a multi-billion dollar industry.
“The foreign vessels make life hard for West African fishermen. Foreign trawlers from Asia and Europe have cost West Africa’s economy 300,000 jobs and $2 billion in income,” according to the report.
Recently, the Nigerian Navy (NN) traced Chinese vessels as most culpable in the Nigeria’s loss of about $70 million annually to illegal unreported and unregulated fishing in the nation’s territorial waters.
Addressing students of the United States War College on a study tour to, the Navy said crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other sea crime had been the problems confronting the force within the country’s maritime environment.
The Chief Staff Officer of the Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, and some other principal officers received the students, numbering about nine, at the Western Naval Command Apapa.
According to the brief handed out to the students, the Nigerian Navy said that most culpable in the illegal and unreported fishing within the country’s territorial waters, were Chinese vessels, which stray into the area to fish illegally.
He stated that this illegal fishing along the nation’s territorial waters has caused the economy severe loss costing about $70 million annually and 300,000 jobs, including damage to Nigeria’s fish populations.