The Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters (MoFWR-NAMs) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) have reaffirmed their commitment to the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as they accelerate efforts aimed at ensuring responsible and sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in The Gambia.
Mr Omar SM Gibba, permanent secretary MoFWR-NAMs and Ms Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO representative made this pledge in statements delivered during the opening ceremony of a stakeholders’ Retreat in Kanilai starting on 28 September 2021 over a period of 5 days. The Retreat deliberated on the Terminal Evaluation Report of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (2007-2016) and Fisheries Sector Strategic Plan (2017-2021).
FAO provided technical and financial support for the Retreat enhancing past joint efforts to make fisheries more productive and to address Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters has embraced the FAO 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). The CCRF sets out international principles and standards of behaviour for responsible practices to ensure effective conservation, management, and development of both marine and freshwater living aquatic resources. It accounts for the impact of fishing on ecosystems, the impact of ecosystems on fisheries, and the need to conserve biodiversity. To guide adherence to this conduct, The Gambia’s national fisheries policies and plans undertook deliberations intended to cater for such needs.
Mr Omar SM Gibba, noted that the retreat presents an opportunity to “critically scrutinise the draft evaluation report, provide inputs and recommendations for the development of a consultative successor Policy and Strategic Plan.” He noted that The Gambia’s geographical nature makes it possible for coastal and inland fishing. He said the sector provides the cheapest source of animal protein to most of the Gambian population and contributes 12 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
PS Gibba reiterated the importance government attaches to the sustainable development and exploitation of fisheries and aquaculture as enshrined in the National Development Plan, 2018 – 2022. He underscored the government’s commitment to the CCRF for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. He used the platform to express gratitude to FAO for its consistent and continuous support to The Gambia in the development of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector.
Mrs Anna Mbenga Cham, director of Fisheries, reiterated the importance of the fisheries and aquaculture sector for the sustainable economic development of the country. She said the sector has the potential to enhance livelihoods in the country by contributing more to the fight against poverty, gender inequality, food insecurity and malnutrition. She noted that the sector is a potential source of employment creation and increased foreign exchange earnings through value addition and exportation.
Ms Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Representative in her statement read on her behalf by Ms Sirra Njai Sanyang, FAO Programme Officer conveyed FAO’s gratitude to the Government of The Gambia for according high priority to the development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector for improved socio-economic growth as well as food and nutrition security. She added that FAO is keen to support its members to promote responsible and sustainable development in fisheries and aquaculture through adherence to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Ms Rampedi assured MoFWR& NAM of continuous technical and financial support to the Gambia in the formulation and implementation of policies, strategies and programmes in Fisheries and Aquaculture.
She used the opportunity to commend The Gambia for its commitment to the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IPOA-IUU) and the International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity (IPOA-Capacity). She noted the ratification of the IUU – Port State Measures by the Gambia’s National Assembly and appreciated that adherence to best international practices contributes to sustainable management of Gambia’s marine and inland fisheries resources.