By Rohey Jadama
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, on Friday 12 May 2017, signed a cooperative programme with the Gambia government, through the ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, at the ministry’s office in Banjul.
The project titled “Supporting the application of the Ecosystem approach to fisheries management, considering climate and pollution impacts,” is funded by the government of Norway to the tune of $80.6m, equivalent to six hundred and five million Norwegian kroners.
According to the organizers, the five year sustainable fisheries development initiative targets several countries in the world focusing in particular, on the Africa region.
The project seeks to address the weakness in fisheries management in partner countries and identify interventions that will create the opportunity for long-term sustainability and transformational change. The intervention is expected to improve fisheries management, poverty reduction and achieve sustainable food security.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. James Gomez, the Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, said the ocean, seas and rivers provide a vital source of food, employment, trade and economic well-being of the world’s population.
“World-Wide, fishing and its related activities provide employment and livelihoods for over 60 million people, 90% of whom, live in developing countries. Here in the Gambia, fishing and its related activities create employment and livelihoods for over 200,000 people,” said the Minister.
Mr. Gomez said the principal aim of the program, is to ensure that sustainable fisheries improve food and nutrition security for the people in partner countries.
“The fisheries sector of the Gambia has enormous potentials to generate revenue and foreign exchange for the country, create genuine employment for the people of the Gambia, contribute to poverty reduction and improve the nutritional status of Gambians amongst others,” he said.
He asserted that for these to be sustainably realized, it is important that fisheries management institutions, including the communities and civil society organizations, deal with fisheries principles.
Madam Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, FAO Representative in the Gambia, said the fisheries sector is an important pillar for the food and nutrition security and poverty reduction of the country; that it is the main supplier of protein in the diets of most Gambians and the third largest food provider, after agriculture and livestock. ‘‘An estimated 200,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods,’’ she said.
“The Government of the Gambia has set fisheries as one of the priority intervention sectors for security, poverty reduction and jobs and wealth creation,” she said.
Madam Kalala, reaffirmed FAO’s continuous commitment to working closely with the government and the people of the Gambia and to support fisheries practices that will attain SDG goals for the growth of the sector. She said they would ensure that the fisheries resources of the country remain healthy to support the needs and interests of future generations.