Experts urge government to enhance capacity of small-scale fisheries

Yusuf Akinlotan, Lagos

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Against the back drop of climate change and the challenge of food security, experts have called on government and stakeholders in the fishery industry to enhance the capacity of small scale fisheries.

The experts noted that unethical fishing practices by foreigners and industrial fishers have posed critical threats for small scale fish farmers in the country.

Facilitators made this assertion at  the 9th fishery conference  tagged ‘Fish Party’  in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries  held at the  Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.

Addressing stakeholders on  the theme:”Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries and Food Security,” the guest speaker, Professor Stella Williams from Department of Agricultural Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) emphasised on the need to build the capacities of small scale fisheries, saying that it’s  imperative because the industrial fishers were already rich.

She urged the government and stakeholders to look into the fishing industry in the international context expressing the optimism that agriculture, particularly fish farming is capable of becoming the main stay of Nigeria’s economy if there are right legislations and collaborations.

According to the don, Nigeria has not shown interest in small-scale fishing system and better integrate a mutually supportive value chains in the industry for a sustainable production.

She urged government to invest in capacity strengthening of men and women in small scale fisheries, promote collective learning and practices, co-production of knowledge for shared prosperity and sustainable economy.

We need to look to look inwardly. Banning of fish is not the solution, but rather look into the international context. We need to fortify our local production, provide access to funding for local fish farmers. Preservation is sacrosanct. This will encourage production and good exports for foreign exchange and ultimately food security.

“Government needs to first be thinking of the people, what action plans to do before thinking of the market. Government has to support doing activities and attract investors for sustainable aquaculture in the country.”

Meanwhile, Professor Williams urged government and stakeholders to work harder towards implementing the Paris Climate Agreement saying the agreement will further advance the operations and frontiers of small scale fisheries to dovetail into greater opportunities for Nigeria.

The convener of Fish Party, Idowu Hunyinbo revealed what informed this years 9th Edition as the need to celebrate fish, assess the immediate and general environment of fish for sustainable fish production and conservation towards achieving food and job security.

He noted that the goal of Fish Party was to promote fish consumption for healthier and wealthier living and advance the cause of sustainable fishery production with sufficient foods to boost the nation’s GDP and ultimately the economy.

What we are doing is to encourage fishers not to use chemicals and small nets for their fish production, rather to use improved standard mechanisms and strategies,” he said.

He added that the foundation is aware that the aquatic environment is exposed to various threats due to industrial activities and environmental pollution affecting the survival of fishes and the economy.

Hunyinbo urged government to support fisheries and initiatives for fish production and consumption for healthier living because of the huge protein value and the role fish play in the human survival and the economy.