By Lamin Cham The Minister of Fisheries James Gomez has defended the Gambia-EU fisheries agreement saying it is the best thing to have happened in the Gambia’s fishing sector for 22 years. Speaking at a press briefing hosted by the EU at their office yesterday, Minister Gomez said for the last 22 years The Gambia was not getting anything from her natural resources compared to this deal which not only gives the country a substantial amount of money but will also help build the capacity of Gambians for effective running of the sector. Addressing concerns from journalists about over fishing and destruction of the country’s stock of fish, the minister said in the first place the deal was carefully studied to avert such situations adding that the species of fish covered in the deal such as Tuna and hake are not even among the types commonly consumed by Gambians. “Furthermore the agreement pegged the quantity of fish that can be caught at any given time even in case a vessel exceeds that it will attract charges. In any case the interest of The Gambia is well protected in the deal.” According to Minister Gomez, the money that would be accrued from the deal will be split into two with one half going directly to government as revenue whereas the other half will be retained by the ministry to open up projects of capacitation and financial support to Gambian entrepreneurs so that in the long run, more and more Gambians will have both he financial and technical muscle to end foreign domination in the sector. “In the past there were Gambian fishing companies like NPE Lie Fish etc which employed lot of Gambians but over the past 22 years all those have disappeared and Gambians must now be supported with funds to start business in the sector. This is what is more useful than no deal at all where the natural resources would be there untapped,” he argued. The minister said the EU-Gambia deal is just one among many such deals reached between the community and other nations in the region and it only makes sense that the Gambia sign one not to miss out on opportunities that will benefit her people and their businesses. The EU Ambassador Attila Lajos thanked the minister and his PS for attending the meeting and the journalists in the sensitisation and outreach to raise awareness of the deal. The deal covers a period of six years and will give access to European vessel to fish 3300 tone of tuna as well as 750 tons of hake per year. In turn EU will pay The Gambia 550.000 Euros per year. The agreement also covers the cooperation to fight against illegal unreported and unregulated fishing IUU and the promotion of the blue economy.]]>
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