By Awa B. Bah
“The new Gambia will continue to provide support for the realization of improved and sustained management and development of the fisheries sector as we join other countries to benefit from the second phase of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme WARFP. The expected investment for the country from this programme is $30 Million with justification on developing landing sites and adding value to fisheries products for improved food security and poverty eradication.”
These were the words of the Minister for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Matters, James F.P Gomez, while addressing stakeholders at a two- day retreat for the fisheries sector, held at a local hotel on Thursday, 3rd August 2017.
The objective of the retreat is to bring together all stakeholders of the fisheries sector to discuss and brainstorm on issues that affect the development of the sector and to provide solutions and opportunities for a better way forward.
It could be recalled that the sector has at some point, undergone inappropriate reforms that caused lots of difficulties for implementation.
Following the developments of the new Gambia with its new dispensation, the ministry found it eminent to organize a retreat, where all stakeholders of the sector will converge to discuss a way forward that will not only develop the sector but make it robust and vibrant to the envy of the other sectors within the country.
The theme for the retreat was: “Fisheries Sector and the Way Forward.” With this theme in mind, it is felt that it will allow participants to get ready for the points to be discussed that will ensue in the meeting.
The Minister noted that the retreat was very timely announcing the finalization of the preparation of the National Development Plan NDP 2018-2021, for the fisheries sector, to promote vibrant fisheries and aquaculture sectors through research, sustainable management and utilization of the resources that could enhance employment and livelihood opportunities, incomes and foreign exchange earnings, including food and nutrition security.
He revealed that The Minister of fisheries, water resources and national assembly matters has signed a MOU with the Government of the republic of Turkey on cooperation in the field of fisheries development and management, adding that the agreement between The Gambia and Senegal signed in March 2017 is to support effective management and development of our fisheries sectors as both countries are genuinely ready to support each other.
He said that the ministry in collaboration with the ministry of defence, is into negations in combating Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing within the waters of the Gambia.
In her address at the opening ceremony, Dr. Perpetua Katepa Kalala, FAO country director indicated that such inclusive processes will strengthen the relevance of agreed plans and strategies, improve service delivery and increase contribution to economic growth and poverty reduction. ‘‘The fisheries sector has great potential which when attained will be a game changer for national development,’’ she noted.
She said fisheries and aquaculture is a major sector for food and nutrition security, producing 93.4 million tons from captured fisheries and 73.8 million tons from aquaculture globally. She pointed that fisheries is a major contributor to the Gambia’s socio-economic development. FAO, she said has been providing technical assistance to the fisheries sector of the Gambia in the formulation and implementation of policies, strategies, programmes and projects, aimed at improving food security and nutrition and poverty reduction, in a broad-base, equitable and sustainable manner.
She commended the government of the Gambia through the ministry of fisheries for the excellent relationship that FAO enjoys and reaffirms her organisation’s commitment to deepen their collaboration and cooperation with the government of the Gambia.