By Olimatou Coker
The monitoring, control, and surveillance unit of the Department of Fisheries has last Wednesday organized a three-day capacity-building program for the Gambia fisheries observers at a workshop held at Senegambia beach hotel.
The three-day training was funded by the European Union sectoral support program to strengthen the capacities of the fisheries observers.
Malang Darboe, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, said the agreement is for a duration of six years and the objective of the Fisheries Sectoral Support is to strengthen the sustainable management of our fisheries resources and the development of the sector, in particular fisheries Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance of our waters.
Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global concern that needs concerted efforts in our drive to minimize the menace.
“The observer scheme plays a very important role in the fight against IUU fishing. Observers offer a permanent presence at sea and collect data onboard fishing vessels, thereby reducing IUU activities in our waters. Thus, the need to develop their capacity through training for better performance in the execution of their duties is indeed paramount,” he lamented.
He stated that there are plans at the sub-regional level to have a regional core of fishing vessel observers. “Hopefully, when the MCS convention is ratified by all the member states, the scheme will be operational. As a result, the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources attaches great importance to this training because it is also vital to have well-trained and competent personnel to be part of the Sub Regional Observer Program. You are therefore advised to take up this and other trainings in the future very seriously.”
He expressed heartfelt gratitude to the European Union for standing by The Gambia and hopes this fruitful relation will grow from strength to strength. “I would also like to thank the Director of Fisheries and the MCS Unit for their tireless contribution in making this training program a reality”.
Darboe further explained that the Ministry of Fisheries takes this opportunity to assure the Association of Gambia Fisheries Observers (AGFO) of their support at all times.
Anna Mbenga Cham, Director of Fisheries, said the observer program is one of the complementary efforts being used, particularly by coastal states, to prevent and stem the prevalence of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. The effective management of fisheries resources is also determined by the degree of compliance with stipulated condition by licensed operators thus making the presence of observer on broad vessels crucial and assuring.
“The fisheries department attaches great importance to the capacity building observer as it is the key driving force to any meaningful development. the observer scheme has been in existence since the 80s, therefore it is important to have refresher on the job training for observers and on the emerging issues within the setor”.
She urged all the participants to take full advantage of the training for the improvement in the excursion of their duties on board fishing vessels.