The Federal Government, yesterday, raised concerns about the inability to meet up the 3.6million metric tonnes (mt) demand for fish as the country only produces 1.2million metric tonnes leaving a wide gap of 2.4million mt.
While the Federal Government has been encouraging backward integration in the fisheries sector to improve local production and reduce importation, Nigeria still leads among fish importing countries in West Africa despite abundant resources.
The Director, Fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Imeh Umoh, while declaring open the Internally Coordination Meeting for the implantation of the fisheries Governance Project phase2 lamented that despite the huge demand for fish in the country, they could only produce a 1.2million mt from the industrial and artisanal aquaculture sector.
While mentioning that there are myriads of challenges confronting the aquaculture sector, Umoh mentioned that they have been able to licence 164 fishing vessels trapped in the Nigerian territorial waters.
He also mentioned that a vessel monitoring system has been installed in Abuja and Lagos to monitor the activities of the fishing vessels, while the ministry has collaborated with the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA to monitor what is going on in the exclusive economic zone and the sea level.
The Director, however, disclosed that the ministry has collaborated with the World Fish to import genetically improved farm Tilapia to improve the breed stock to be distributed to farmers.
The Director of the African Union, IBAR, Dr Nick Nwakpa in his remarks noted that the fish governance project underscores the importance of regular consultation with the Regional Economic Community (REC) on project implementation on emerging issues and exchange of information towards anchoring project continental activities to regional priorities.
He pointed out that the African Fisheries Reform Mechanism and the policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa underscore the importance of regional collaboration, coordination and coherence in the governance of the African fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The Senior Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union Commission, Panduleni Elago noted that the EU/AU funded project is built around ending hunger in Africa by 2025.
Ernest Aubee from ECOWAS Commission mentioned that at the regional office, ECOWAS is involved in a fish governance project called PETCOW aimed at improving governance of the fish and aquaculture value chain.