The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, said the process would help combat the issues of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, also said that the data will promote the sustainable management and use of marine and coastal fisheries resources in West Africa.
Speaking at the 2nd Regional Steering/Technical Committee Meeting Monitoring for Environment And Security in Africa (MESA) organized by the ECOWAS Coastal And Marine Resources Management Center, in Abuja, Echono, who was represented by the Director of fisheries in the ministry, said the subsector contributed four per cent to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP).
He said: “Globally, IUU fishing occurs in virtually all fisheries, hampering effective fisheries management, causing grievous environmental concern and huge economic loss to fisheries. Nigeria is therefore committed to the ongoing global campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
“IUU fishing in particular, if undeterred could undermine the attainment of this goal. IUU fishing in particular can lead to the collapse of a fishery or seriously impair efforts to rebuild stocks that have already been depleted. Being an international crime, no matter how much we can do ourselves on the national level, combating IUU requires cooperation and commitment of member coastal countries.
“The vision of Mr. President is to grow Nigeria’s agriculture to achieve a hunger free nation. While diversifying the economy, agriculture would drive income growth, accelerate achievements of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a leading global player in food fish market to grow wealth for millions of practitioners and stakeholders.
He added that the FMARD under the present administration is adopting a holistic approach to the development of the fisheries sub sector.
In his keynote address, the Provost of the College of Applied and Basic Sciences, University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Owusu said that the main challenges to resource management in Africa were due to inadequate or lack of continuous data for monitoring environment and its resources.
According to him, West African waters are estimated to have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37 percent of the region’s catch.
He said: “There are a lot of activities ongoing within the coastal waters of West Africa which are not very easy to monitor and regulate. So this project is supposed to access information that will help in managing properly fishery resources, not necessarily only conserving but for sustainable harnessing and usage.
“We are also looking at the safety at sea. This earth observation program is supposed to provide meteorological information that will provide will provide safety access. These are two major areas of concern for the process.”