GAMBIA - The Fisheries minister has stressed the need for monitoring, control, and surveillance through improved collaboration and cooperation to be reinforced to combat what he called the ever-increasing challenges from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Mass Axi Gai was speaking in Basse, Upper River Region (URR) during the opening ceremony of a two-day sensitisation for communities in the region on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices and preservation of biological resources. The event was organised by the Network of Parliamentarians and Locally Elected Representatives (Appel), the DailyObserver reports.
The minister underscored that the fisheries sector contributes significantly to the socio-cultural and economic well being of coastal, estuarine and fresh water fishing and many other communities in The Gambia. He said it is estimated that more than 200,000 Gambians are directly or indirectly employed in the fishing industry.
“Fishing contributes five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and fish forms a significant portion of the animal protein. However, these benefits are presently threatened as a result of the impacts of climate change, poor management practices and ever increasing challenges from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and reduced ecosystem health,” he warned.
He described the issue of IUU fishing as not just a fisheries matter, rather a national one. “IUU fishing in particular is a priority concern for the Gambian leader. “This is why the government of The Gambia came up with the relevant legal framework in the form of fisheries legislation (Fisheries Act 2007 and fisheries legislation 2008) to improve the efficiency of our fisheries resources.
In fulfillment of the relevant sections of the fisheries legislation, the Ministry and the Department of Fisheries in collaboration with stakeholders will embark on the registration of artisanal fishing boats operating in The Gambia to assist in combating IUU fishing activities in our waters,” he stated.
The Environment, Climate Change, Water Resources, Parks and Wildlife minister, for his part, described agriculture as the backbone of the country’s economy, but observed that due to the decline of biological diversity, which includes deforestation, it results to the loss in soil fertility and caused soil erosion.
Speaking earlier, the chairman of Appel and NAM for Tumana, Hon Netty Baldeh, informed that the forum was organised with funding from UNDP, PRCM, IUCN, and Wetlands International.
He explained that the essence of the workshop was meant to sensitise local communities in fishing practices, illegal fishing, and preservation of biodiversity in relation to poverty alleviation. “As we all know, we have quite big problems with our rivers, streams, forests, and wildlife and it is these communities that are affected and they should be the ones to protect it,” he asserted.
Baldeh said the Network found it necessary to sensitise the locals in order to chart the way forward for the protection of fisheries and environment sectors. He hastened to mention that both the Ministries of Fisheries and Environment are very much concerned about the menace.
The governor of the region, Omar Sampo Ceesay, also described the sensitisation as a very important move towards alleviating poverty among the locals of his region.
“This National Assembly is different in the sense that members are not only sitting at the House making laws, but they look at how to improve our lives,” he stated, while urging the NAMs to keep up the momentum.
TheFishSite News Desk
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