By Juldeh Njie
The Gambia government through the Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters on Friday signed an 80.6m dollars cooperative programme with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO.
The Norwegian government funded project entitled “supporting the Application of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Considering Climate and Pollution Impacts (EAF-Nansen Programme” seeks to help address the weaknesses in fisheries management in partner countries and identify interventions that will create the opportunity for long-term sustainable and transformational change.
The intervention according to officials is expected to contribute to improve fisheries management, poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable food security.
Speaking shortly before the signing, FAO country representative Perpetua Katepa-Kalala said: “The fisheries sector is an important pillar for food nutrition security and poverty reduction in the Gambia.
It is the main supplier of animal protein in the diets of most Gambians and the third largest food provider, after agriculture and livestock”.
According to her, an estimated 200,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods.
She added the marine ecosystem is being threatened despite its ability in providing goods.
“The main threats being unsustainable fishing practices, pollution from marine and land-based sources, and climate variability and change, combined with limited capacity to manage these impacts and their compounded effects”, Kalala lamented.
For his part, James Gomez, Fisheries Minister applauded the FAO for their uplifting support, adding that the government of Norway through NORAD and FAO has been their longstanding partners in the area of acoustic surveys to determine the abundance and distribution of their pelagic fisheries resources.
“The data and information collected from the surveys are translated into appropriate decision making both at the policy and management levels which are crucial for the management and development of the fisheries sector”, he added.
Residing on the enormous importance of the sector in The Gambia, Minister Gomez said “the sector generates revenue and foreign exchange for the country, creates genuine employment, poverty reduction and improvement of the nutritional status of Gambian people amongst others”.