FISON, Stakeholders Call For Fisheries Commission
• Say Fisheries Acts of 1992 need urgent review
CONCERNED about the challenges facing fisheries and the undesirable impact on the economic fortunes of the stakeholders and the nation, the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) organised a conference at the Nigerian Institute For Oceanography And Marine Research, Victoria Island, Lagos to tackle the issues holistically.
In a statement signed by the Society’s Executive Secretary, Dr. (Mrs.) Charity Oche, it was resolved that the fall in crude oil prices in the international market presented a seeming advantage, in terms of diversification, to forge ahead in advancing the sub-sector.
Therefore, in addition to recommending a zero import duty on all fisheries and aquacultural inputs, stakeholders called on government to establish a Fisheries Commission.
Stakeholders also suggested a regime of 1-2.5 per cent interest rate for aquacultural and fisheries allied investments respectively, while a committee was set up to coordinate the effort of the Society towards its charter status.
FISON President, Dr. Ayinla said the sub-sector has been plagued by challenges such as illegal incursion of foreign fishing vessels into Nigerian Territorial waters and lack of surveillance, control and monitoring of Nigerian waters and absence of adequate fisheries database.
In addition, he listed high cost of raw materials and fisheries equipment, conflicting roles of regulating bodies, lack of standardised processing methods and non-compliance to deployment of standard packaging materials as hurdles to operational efficiency of the sub-sector.
Aside the neglect suffered by ornamental fisheries operators over the years, Ayinla said high licensing fees for the use of natural water bodies for aqua cultural purposes such as fish cage culture to low-end indigenous investors was unfriendly business climate.
He stressed that the current Fisheries Acts of 1992 is now obsolete and called for an urgent review, pointing out that the relationship between the Ministry, Department of Fisheries and the Fisheries Commission is not clearly stated in the proposed Fisheries Act.
As way forward, participants recommended the updating and speeding up of the enactment of Fisheries Act with clear cut definition of duties of the Federal Department of Fisheries, States, local Government and private sector.
It was the view of stakeholders that monitoring, control and surveillance should be intensified to discourage illegal fishing and poaching, while the private sector should go be encouraged to go into Tuna exploitation to develop local canning industry and reduce our fish import bill.
At the forum, it was canvassed that the private sector should consider collaborating with Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) to operate the research vessel of the institute for the purpose of fishing pelagic species for fish meal production, while government should encourage private sector to establish commercial fish feed mills in the six geo-political zones of the country using locally available feed materials in the zones.
Stakeholders agreed that there should be standardisation and certification of processing and packaging of fish and fish products and that of fishfeed manufacture and importation.
Like in the poultry sector, where consumption of eggs is being promoted, fish stakeholders plan to embark on aggressive enlightenment campaign on the health benefits of consuming wholesome fish and fish products.
The forum identified the immense contribution of women in value addition and marketing, and that they should be supported with access to soft loans and be encouraged to imbibe modern technology.
National President, Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), Mr. Tayo Akingbolagun said the meeting was quite strategic in that one of the objectives is to drastically reduce fish importation.
Stakeholders at the meet include the Director of Fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Pastor Aderemi Abioye and representatives of NITOA, CAFAN, TADAN, AFISUN, NUFAS, WINROCK, Embassies, relevant student bodies and the Advocacy for fisheries group, among others were represented.
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