By Olimatou Coker
& Amadou Jadama
West African Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries (WADAF) Friday holds a national conference for its members at a conference held at NaNA hall in Kanifing.
The conference seeks to strengthen the involvement of civil society in advocating for transparency in fisheries governance and the management of small pelagic resources.
Speaking at the conference WADAF secretary general Moussa, Mbengue, reported that WADAF has made significant achievements in Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal during this first phase of production of transparency reports on the management of small pelagic resources, setting up of operational advocacy action plans.
Mbengue added that the association’s action plan on the second which is supported by the PRCM- MAVA project is now extended to The Gambia where the same pelagic fisheries are strategic leading to the establishment of a national advocacy coalition that developed an operational action plan for implementation.
Director of Fisheries Anna Mbenga Cham, disclosed that; “In the Gambia research has shown that an estimated 300,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in the fisheries value chain ranging from fishermen, boat builders, fish processors, and trades. over 65% of the fisheries sector’s contribution to GDP comes from the artisanal fisheries sub-sector.
But she warned that there are grave concerns over the declining stock which if not properly managed can lead to overexploited due to overcapacity, irresponsible fishing practices, IUU fishing as well as some other major threats, coupled with inadequate transparency in fisheries governance in the management of the small pelagic.
According to her this and other factors informed the national conference with specific objectives of raising awareness among artisanal fisheries professionals and civil society on the challenges and importance of transparency in fisheries governance and small pelagic management and to finalize and initiate the implementation of the national advocacy coalition action plan.
Director Cham reiterated that the government is ‘fully determined to see to it that fisheries sector succeed in The Gambia in meeting the national development plan objectives.
Addressing a press conference at the side lines of the conference National Coordinator of Small Pelagic Mustapha Yarboe, underscored the crucial roles played by the media and civil society to strengthen public outreach on the management and exploitation of small pelagic in the Gambia.
He expressed optimism that the dialogue will strengthen the capacities of artisanal fisheries organizations whose members are the main users of fisheries resources to empower them to popularized policies in the sector.