The Ministry of Fisheries, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), recently convened a one-day fisheries stakeholders’ consultation forum at a local hotel.
Sirra Njie-Sanyang, on behalf of the FAO representative in The Gambia, described fishing as one of the major sources of food and it offers great opportunity for employment and economic benefits for the country. “Fisheries resource needs to be managed properly for offering their sustainable contribution to the nutritional, economic and social wellbeing of the growing population. The challenges to achieving sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture are global and required coordinated action.”
She said it is generally agreed that The Gambia fisheries and aquaculture sectors are operating well below their potential, and also that there has been an increase in non-sustainable fishing practices which must be changed. “A number of economic, social, institutional, physical and technical constraints are impeding the sustainable development growth and management of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.”
The Government of The Gambia, she further noted, recognised the need for a coherent strategy and associated action plan to address these challenges and support informed decision making about investments in the fisheries sector. Despite the presence of the 2007 fisheries policy, she went on, the government recognised that there is limited information and data that would allow for a well-informed fisheries and aquaculture sectors development strategy. “It is against this background that government requested for FAO technical support for the formulation of a fisheries and aquaculture sector action plan for 2015-2020. I believe that a collaborative approach to the development of the sector can be achieved in areas for potential technical cooperation and assistance with FAO and other development partners.”
Madam Sanyang emphasised that this consultation forum would provide relevant information that could be analysed for development of the fisheries and agricultural strategy, saying clearly articulated fisheries and aquaculture sector strategy would guide government as well as private sector, civil society, development partners and all actors in country’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors in their decision making for policy.
Abdoulie T B Jarra, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries on behalf of the minister of Fisheries, informed that currently the Ministry and its line departments have undertaken reforms and initiatives including review and updated the Fisheries Act of 2007 and the Fisheries Regulations of 2008, to reflect current realities with strong focus on the sustainable use and management of marine resources.
PS Jarra noted that it is in line with its long-term development framework called the Vision 2020, and its Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE 2012-2015) and the medium–term strategy. “Government further formulated a strategic action plan with the objective of promoting fisheries for enhanced contribution to poverty reduction and overall socio-economic development.
Therefore, the main objective of this consultation forum, he added, is to identify the strength and weakness, as well as threats facing the fisheries sector, noting that participants’ comments and effective participation at this meeting would be highly solicited. “These comments will be thoroughly examined and used by consultants in the development of the country’s fisheries sector and aquaculture development policy strategies plan, which are the principal documents governing the management and development of the fisheries sector.”
PS Jarra maintained that this document applies throughout the fisheries waters of The Gambia aquaculture development, the inland waters, marine waters and the territorial sea, up to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured.
The Gambia Fisheries Sector and Aquaculture Development Strategy, he affirmed, are comprehensive pieces of management documents dealing with the administration of the sector, among others.