Fisheries stakeholders decry demise of bonga fish

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By Omar Bah

Stakeholders in the fishery sector within the sub-region have decried the demise of the ethemalosa fimbriata (bonga) fish within the sub-region and Gambia in particular.
The stakeholders who were drawn from Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia over the past five days held different sensitisation workshops in Kololi, Gunjur, Tanji and Jeshwang with fishermen, fish vendors among others.

The stakeholders’ consultative workshops organised by the sub-regional fisheries commission, SRFC in collaboration with the ministry of fisheries within the framework of the GOWAMER project was meant to sensitise fisheries stakeholders on the importance of saving the (Bonga) fish.
Recently the information minister reported that the fisheries sector continues to gain prominence in the government’s development agenda due to its potential contribution to food security, improved nutrition, poverty eradication and addressing unemployment in the country.

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According to the minister since the commencement of industrial fishing operation in June 2017, total revenue of GMD 8, 279, 085.75 has been realised from license and a further GMD 135, 000 was generated from the payment of fishing license forms.

But, for Dr Diop Mika Samba, a Mauritanian biologist and an international consultant there are some negative implications caused by over fishing in the Gambian waters, especially for the bonga fish which he claims is seriously diminishing.
He said the need for the country to have a change of paradigm in the areas of fishing especially the bonga fish.

Diop recommended for the need to increase the rates of licensing boats to reduce the demand of license.
“Many fishermen are coming to the Gambia because they have licenses in the Gambia at very cheaper rates,” he said.

He said the importance attached to the bonga fish cannot be overemphasized, “this is why we believe there should be measures in place to preserve the bonga fish from demising.”
“The issue of statistics is also needed to ensure the in and out of the boats and fish is known and understood by the authorities. Climate Change is also a contributing factor to the demise of not only the bonga, but fish in general,” he said.

He said the need to reduce the number of boats in the sea is also paramount to control the issues of over fishing. He said is either that happens or we increase the nets.
He said the need for the fish stakeholders to organise themselves into groups is important to control fishing in the sea, especially those who are using illegal fishing.

Dr Diop who completed a survey recently on the bonga fish was in the country to present a project designed on how the bonga fish can be preserved and how much it can contribute to national development, said the recommended nets should for the bonga should be within 40 to 80 mm.
On Artisanal license, he said Gambia has the least compared to other neighboring countries like Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Bissau and Mauritania.

He said license is given to fishermen in the Gambia at GMD 2000 to 3000, whiles in Bissau 1000000 million CFA to 1600, 000 CFA depending on the duration of time you apply.
Diop also recommended for Gambia to be creative in the fisheries sector by adding value to the products to gain more profits.

He said the three-year fisheries project, will focus on empowering the different committees at landing sites, register the votes, monitor and surveillances and construct roads linking landing sites.
All the speakers at the consultative forum decried the lack of respect for the fisheries regulations, especially when it comes to the recommended fish nets for catching bonga.

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