By Awa B. Bah

The minister of fisheries and water resources told the National Assembly that the rehabilitation and extension of the women fish smoking house at Bakau fishing centre is underway. The minister made this statement during national assembly proceedings on Tuesday 04th July 4, 2017 in response to a question by the national assembly member for Bakau.

According to him, the coalition government under the leadership of President Adama Barrow has given priority attention and concern for the sustainable management, development and protection of the fisheries sector to benefit the present and future of Gambians.

Minister James Furmose Gomez

He indicated that they have support from the West African Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries WADAF based in Senegal, adding that funding has been secured to the tune of D380,000  for the monitoring of marine protected Area (MPA) identified by the fishing community in Bakau. The MPA, he said, is an important ecological hot spot area for fish breeding , spawning, breeding and resting grounds for other marine aquatic animals.

The important role of the fisheries sector in the economic and social development of the country, he noted, cannot be over emphasized particularly as it relates to the creation of employment, generation of revenue and foreign exchange, contribution to food security and poverty alleviation as well as improvement of nutritional standards of the population.

To the question raised by the honorable member for Bakau on whether the ministry is aware of the deplorable and dilapidated state of the Bakau fishing center and if there are any plans to alleviate its situation, the minister said the government of the Gambia is a beneficiary to the West African Regional Fisheries Programme WARFP phase two funded by the World Bank.

In early 2018, the minister revealed that the WARFP will invest in infrastructures and facilities to upgrade the conditions of Bakau fishing center and support their effective operation for increased efficiency in contributing to improved livelihoods, food security and poverty reduction.

The WARFP, he further revealed, will also setup community based fisheries management structures for the involvement of communities in co management of fisheries resources.

The minister in responding to a supplementary question raised by the member for Serrekunda on the plans put in place to enhance exportation and the types of institutions to be formed in order to build capacities, he said that requests include ice making plants, fish market, fish handling and processing center, cold storage, sanitation, community space for women and children in the fishing sector, and administration offices.

In his response to a question raised by the NAM for Kombo East whether there are mechanisms in place for the rehabilitation of the Pirang Scan Gambia Ltd. The minister said that the Pirang scan Gambia Ltd is not under the ministry of fisheries and water resources and there are no plans by the ministry for its rehabilitation.

He recalled that the farm was nationalized in 2015 by the former regime despite being a privately owned property, Following the nationalization, the minister said that the farm was financially supported by the office of the former president and the ministry of agriculture and he understands that the farm was intended to complement vision 2016.

He said that in February 2016, an executive order was sent to the ministry of fisheries instructing Mr Saloum Jatta , principal fisheries officer to oversee the farms and be the interim farm manager despite the fact that there were no job descriptions neither terms of references for the interim farm manager.

In his conclusion, the minister said that it is his opinion that the office of the president and the ministry of agriculture should be in a better position to inform the national assembly members concerning the rehabilitation mechanism for the Pirang Scan Gambia Ltd.

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