The European Union has said it will provide up to €15million facility to countries in the West African sub-region, as part of effort to enhance coordination among stakeholders involved in fisheries and maritime activities in the Gulf of West Africa.
The programme, which would span over six years would also ensure proper organisation of institutions involved in fisheries in the region, and also achieve good cooperation among all stakeholders.
The European Union Representative, Stephania Marone, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, during a Workshop/Launch of the Regional Policy Dialogue Process for the Development of ECOWAS Fisheries and Aquaculture Regional Policy within the Framework of Regional Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).
She noted that one of the important reasons behind the project is to enhance security stability of the region, maintaining that the fishery sector is considered to be very strategic in ensuring security not only in the region but globally.
She said: “This programme was developed in close cooperation between EU and ECOWAS, and many actions were identified and €15million has being dedicated for the programme, which would last for six years, financial agreement has being signed. We hope that this programme would achieve good coordination between all the stakeholders involved in the fisheries and maritime activity on the Gulf of West Africa.”
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment, and Water Resources, Chambakou Ayassor, said the aim of the workshop is to develop new strategies that would develop or minimise the negative impact of illegal fishing among other bad practices in the lakes, rivers, offshore and a host of others.
Stressing the need to develop specific strategy for the fisheries sector, Ayassor disclosed that they are in the process of putting in place a global strategy for the region to tackle the challenges of fisheries development, and also organise the production, storage and the whole transportation process.
He said: “For instance, the storage and movement of fish from one place to the other requires specific equipment, that is, the Cold Chain to keep the product in good condition among others. That is what the workshop aims to achieve, proposing strategies to address some of these areas.”
Ayassor decried that the fisheries and aquaculture sector in West Africa is still facing challenges that hamper its harmonious development, and does not allow the sector to contribute sustainably to food and nutrition security and chronic poverty reduction within the populations of West Africa.
He highlighted the challenges to include weakness of fisheries resources management systems, especially shared stock among ECOWAS member states; persist illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices; low development of aquaculture with the hydrographical potential of the region; and weak processing systems and transport infrastructure for intra-regional trade for fishes and fish products.