Nigeria’s artisanal fishing industry – which generates up to 80 percent of the country’s total fish output estimated at more than one million metric tons – has received a major boost after the regional Lagos State government signed a partnership deal with Ecobank Nigeria Plc.
The partnership, signed in mid-December 2020, focuses on revamping the fisheries value chain in Lagos State with artisanal fishers, including youth and women, expected to access financing for the acquisition of new fishing boats and other equipment, according to Lagos State Agriculture Commissioner Abisola Olusanya.
Olusanya said the partnership is expected to “improve fish landing per unit effort, increase income, and enhance the standard of living in the artisanal fishing communities, make fishing attractive and seamless to youths, who in the past were not ready to adopt fishing as a profession, thereby replacing the ageing fishermen population.”
Although Lagos has the fastest growing fish-farming sector in Nigeria, with potential to meet the state’s entire demand for seafood, the state imports an estimated 50 percent of its fish needs according to the Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025.
With the entry of Ecobank Nigeria Plc – a subsidiary of Ecobank Pan Africa – into West Africa’s artisanal fisheries sphere, Olusanya said she expects the regional fishing community to gain “access to banking services at various fishing communities across the state.”
In addition, she said the new partnership will “upscale the local fish production, create jobs, and reduce the rural-urban drift, empower the fisherfolks, as well as promote the availability of fresh fish at affordable prices.”
Lagos previously committed to reversing the status of the region’s capture fisheries, which are considered undeveloped. The state has prioritized the acquisition of new, modern fishing equipment in recent years to further that goal.
A boost for the Lagos’s artisanal fishing value chain is likely to entice fishers to increase fishing effort and catch, helping the region meet its fish consumption demands. Fish is a primary source of protein in Nigeria, with total consumption estimated 1.5 million MT annually, averaging 4 percent annual increases in recent years.
At the national level, Nigeria’s annual fish consumption is estimated at 3.32 million MT, of which 2.1 million MT is imported. The country, which currently consumes 13.3 kilograms of fish per capita, but with imports constituting the majority of the seafood the country consumes, the nation’s government has made an effort to ramp up domestic production to reduce its trade deficit and increase its food security.