The Fisheries Committee of the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria successfully organized the annual Conference of Ministers on 15 December 2017, in Abuja, Nigeria. It brought together participants representing FCWC Member States, international and regional institutions, regional projects, partners, NGOs, Private sector as well as consultants and resource persons with expertise in the fisheries and aquaculture.
The conference was preceded by three days of the Advisory and Consultative Committee (ACC) working session that reviewed the activities of the Committee over the previous year 2017, proposed key areas of work to be improved and recommendations for sustainable management of regional fisheries resources.
In his introductory statement, the Secretary General of the FCWC, Mr Seraphin Dedi Nadje, welcomed all attendees and shared the successful completion of activities conducted in 2017, which included “the reinforcement of the management tools of the Secretariat; the strengthening of the systematic collection of fisheries data; the promotion of informal and intra-regional trade in fish and collecting information on fishery products and the commitment of new partners such as the European Union to support the institutional strengthening of the organization and the fight against IUU fishing in our sub-region.
He commented further on the theme of the Conference which is “Invest for growth and sustainability in fisheries for west Africa, and said the choice of the theme was to recall that “the enormous potential offered by our coasts and maritime space, is unfortunately not sufficiently exploited, to contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the continent and our sub-region in particular. Initiatives such as blue growth promoted by FAO become an opportunity to seize for both the development of coherent fisheries sector development policies and the successful implementation of them.”
The chairperson of the Committee for the year 2017, Hon. Minister James K Kollie of Liberia in his address said it was “ important that we all continue to bear in mind that fish is not only a source of animal protein for the more than 375 million people of West Africa; fish is also a viable economic resource that provides employment and livelihood for more than 100 million people in West Africa. There is a need to take the management of our fishery resources very seriously.“
His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria attended the Conference and congratulated the FCWC on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. In his opening address he reminded attendees of the objectives of the regional body toward strengthening sub-regional cooperation in fisheries management, monitoring, surveillance and enforcement operations and the development of capacity of small-scale fishing operators in member countries to create sustainable livelihoods. Taking Nigeria’s case as an example of agricultural transformation in Africa, he said “I’m pleased to note that our efforts to reduce fish imports and increase local fish production, by encouraging the private sector to invest in aquaculture, is yielding positive results. Our domestic fish production in the last two years has increased from 450,000 metric tons to 1.1 million metric tons” he shared.
He then commented the theme for this year’s conference “Investing for Growth and Sustainability in Fisheries in West Africa” by directing attention toward the opportunity to invest in the fisheries sector and improve the contribution of fisheries to food security, nutrition and the development of the sub-region. He concluded by uging all participants to support FCWC to achieve its mandate.
The Conference was attended by representatives from several of the international and regional institutions such as the AU, ECOWAS, FAO, the World Bank, , the EU, World Fish, ATLAFCO and PRCM, all reaffirmed their commitment to work with FCWC in supporting sustainable fisheries development in the sub-region.