By Isatou Jawara
A three days regional expert meeting for the fisheries sector is underway in Banjul at the Kairaba Beach hotel.
The meeting, which began on Tuesday 9th May 2017, aims to develop strategies and mechanisms to improve inland fisheries and aquaculture in Africa. The meeting is hosted by the government of The Gambia with support from FAO and constitutes the seventeen session of the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (CIFAA).
Speaking at the opening, James Gomez, the Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters informed delegates that The Gambia government and its development partners have made efforts and interventions to improve fisheries and aquaculture sectors but economic and social constraints such as effects of climate change, poor governance and management are impeding the sustainable development, growth and management of the sectors.
The fisheries minister however assured that his ministry will ensure that aquaculture development and management are well coordinated in the country for better improved performance among implementing institutions; adding that the enabling environment for private sector involvement and participation will be consolidated particularly on land allocation and tax incentives.
“The Gambia has a new Government. With the advent of this new Government, the expectations of Gambians particularly the women and the youth in terms of employment creation, generation of revenue and foreign exchange and contributing to poverty alleviation as well as food security are high and will continue to be high. Their expectations are in perfect agreement with the policy objectives of my ministry.
“The Gambia like many coastal African countries is endowed with marine, brackish and fresh water fisheries resources and the sector has potentials to contribute meaningfully to the overall socio economic development of the country,” he noted.
The FAO Country Representative, Dr Papetua Kalala said: “Inland fish and their fisheries serve important nutritional, economic, cultural and recreational roles and are key components of sustainable eco system functions throughout the world. Particularly in developing countries, inland fisheries are a vital source of protein.
“The development of aquaculture in sub Saharan Africa makes a large growing contribution to inland fish production in many regions, it is key aspect of several national poverty alleviation food security and employment generation programmes. However, aquaculture is still minor contributor to food security in many areas resource poor people may not have the capacity to engage in aquaculture.”
The representative from African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr Chiji Ojukwu also speaking at the occasion, said: “The importance of Africa’s inland fisheries resources, which thousands rely on for their livelihoods and million depend on for important part of their daily nutrition. Yet, resources in some countries are declining both in terms of quality and quantity, whereas in others there is no room for expansion.”