Artisanal Fishermen Lament Invasion of Nigerian Fishing Shelf by Foreigners

SouthEaastPost

Artisanal fishermen in Nigeria have lamented the unregulated fishing escapedes of foreigners in Nigerian shelf using instrument that threaten the future survival of the acquatic creatures. Speaking at a policy outreach organised by the Resource and Environmental Policy Reseach Centre, (REPRC), University of Nigerian, Nsukka, at Valencia Hotel, Abuja, the Chairman of Nigerian Union of Fishermen and Sea Food Dealers, Badagry, Mr Ashade Moses, said fishermen from China take advantage of a loose regulation of fishing in Nigeria to do what they are forbidden from doing in their own country. He said the industrial fishermen from China fish below the five nautical miles approved for them by the Sea Fisheries Act of 1992, and they maltreat artisanal fishermen in the process. Asked if he would support the regulation artisanal fishing in the country, Mr Ashade said there was no need for such regulation because Nigerian government does not give incentive to fishermen compared to what is obtainable in other African countries. He however said that there was need to stop the invasion of foreigners into Nigerian artisanal fishing space. His narrative was corroborated by George Effiong Eshiet from the Ministry of Agriculture, Akwa Ibom, who narrated that fishermen from Ghana have also taken over artisanal fishing shelf in Akwa Ibom and they are not subjected to any form of regulation. He said the foreigners have more sophisticated instrument than the locals and they have grown so bold that they use some compromised security operatives to harass any folk who called to question the suitability of their equipment in the lower shelf. The discussion was provoked by a research paper, titled " Performance of Marine Artisanal Fisheries in Nigeria: Lessons from Fisheries Performance Indicator" presented by Dr Ebele Amaechina on behalf of REPRC. The research, sponsored by the Environment for Development (EfD) discovered that Nigerian Marine artisanal fisheries performed below and worse than the average of all African fisheries. v Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone who anchored the discussion which involved fisherfolks, representatives of government agencies and environmental scholars, pointed out that the Fisheries Act of 1992 contains regulations only for trawler fishermen but contains no regulation for artisanal fishing in the lower shelf. He said the result was a bastardized fishing practices which cause depletion of fish in Nigerian waters. The REPRC-EfD research therefore recommended an immediate stop to artisanal open access fishery in Nigeria by defining who is entitled to fish or not at each point in time. The study also recommended the involvement of fishermen in regulating access and use of unwanted gears. That, according to the research, could be achieved by creating a beach management unit in every landing site. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, University of Nigeria, Prof. Pat Okpoko added that the regulation should also involve placing restrictions on the sizes of hooks and nets sold to artisanal fishermen. Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, who chaired the policy day discussion panel, said the event had revealed the need for research on improved species of fish that can serve the growing Nigerian population. He said such research should also discover the fishery potentials of Nigerian rivers, waters and lakes. Prof Oladipo commended REPRC-EfD for organising the outreach, stating that the event had produced outcomes that should be articulated to influence policy decisions in fishery. At the end of the events, stakeholders agreed that there was need to review the Nigerian Fishery Act because the existing one was obsolete Photo Caption: Stakeholders at the Policy outreach organised by REPRC-UNN sponsred by EfD

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