The Federal Government will help the fisheries sector to recover its competitiveness and reduce import, President Muhammadu Buhari has said. To this end, efforts are being made to put the right policies and enabling environment for private sector to thrive.
Speaking during the inauguration of two fishing vessels acquired by Atlantic Shrimpers Limited, in Lagos, Buhari expressed concerns that the nation’s yearly fish demands stood at 3.5 million tons; of which Nigeria produced 1.1 million tons from aquaculture, artisanal and industrial sectors, including shrimps, leaving a deficit of about 2.4 million tons to importation.
“Our ultimate goal is to attain self-sufficiency in fish and aquaculture production. To this regard, my ministry is not only striving to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and fill in the missing gap but we have in addition ensured that all fishing and fisheries regulations, especially within the marine environment are enforced,’’ the minister said.
Buhari expressed joy that industrial fishing companies, under the auspices of Nigeria Trawlers Association of Nigeria (NITOA), were collaborating with the government to ensure best practices in the exploitation of marine resources.
He said the ministry had elaborated on the Inland Fisheries Regulation for aquaculture policy, including shrimps, to encourage investment and facilitate the promotion of fish and shrimp culture for local consumption and export.
Represented the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the president said the government places emphasis on the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector because it is key to the agricultural sector and contributes about 4.5 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He noted that the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector’s contributions were significant to food security, employment creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings, and the provision of raw materials for the food and animal feed industry.
Buhari explained that the vision of the administration is to grow the sector to achieve a hunger-free country through agriculture. The president noted that the two ultra-modern fishing vessels by Atlantic Shrimpers Limited were in addition to the 70 vessels owned by the company, making it the highest number of fishing fleets and vessels in the industry.
“The Ministry is also opening up the Deep Sea/Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for exploitation of her Tuna resources by issuing Letters of Assurances to companies to bring in deep sea vessels into the country. Nigeria has joined the International Committee for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). This is the only option open to us in terms of seafood security of the nation as we allow the inshore waters to rejuvenate back from the past fishing pressure.
“In addition, we are embarking on backward integration through commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture) for local consumption and export to international markets. In this regard, I wish to mention that several companies have complied with the ministry’s directive on the backward integration policy, including the Atlantic Shrimpers Limited, Triton Aqua Africa, Premium Aquaculture, Tilapia Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN), just to mention but a few,” he added.
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