By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The West African Association for Development of Artisanal Fisheries (WADAF) on Friday, 5 August, 2016, commenced a five day training of fisher-folks from Sierra-Leone and the Gambia on Coastal, Marine Ecosystem Management and Joint Management of Fisheries Resources.
Participants comprised the representatives of fish mongers, fish processors, fishermen among other stakeholders from the fishing sector.
According to the organisers, this training which is taking place at the NaNA conference hall in Bakau, is part of a project on the strengthening of good governance of fisheries and within artisanal fisheries professional organisations in the seven member countries namely the Gambia, Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mauritania and Mali.
The global objective of the project is to contribute to the strengthening of the technical and political skills of the professional artisanal fishers through the perspective of their greater participation in the sustainability of fisheries.
In his introductory remarks, Dawda Saine, WADAF Focal Person in the Gambia, gave a brief explanation of the training program. He underscored the importance of the program to the artisanal fishing sector.
Mr. Saine also dilated on the specific objectives of the training which, he said, included participants to be able to understand the socio-economic, environmental, and political environment of the fisheries in the area covered by Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC). He added that it will also enable participants to understand the characteristic and importance of the different marine and coastal ecosystem of the SRFC area, threats and constraints on marine and coastal ecosystems management tools both on theoretical plans and practice.
“The expected results of the workshop are defined as follows; participants know better the environment in the SRFC zone, understand the theoretical and practical skills of the leaders in the management of marine and coastal ecosystems are strengthened; a baseline of leaders from their knowledge of marine and coastal ecosystem and co-management of fisheries is established among many other expected outcome,” said the WADAF Focal Point.
In his remarks, Moussa Mbengue, Executive Secretary from the WADAF head office in Dakar, underscored the importance of artisanal fishing in West Africa. He noted that it contributes significantly to the creation of jobs and wealth as well as food security of countries, providing most of the requirements in animal protein for the population.
“This training has been categorised for all the member states in the sub-region based on the languages they speak, and the training is a similar training which will be held in all the other countries. That is why Gambia and Sierra Leone are doing it together,” he said.
Mr. Mbengue noted that the development of fisheries sector in the 1980s is handicapped by an acute crisis which is manifested by signs of degradation of the fishery resources. This worrying situation, he said, is fundamentally caused by consecutive overcapacity in inefficient fisheries management systems.
“For years, African states have developed expansionary conventional fisheries policies whose purpose is to boost production by a “blind” modernising of artisanal fisheries and the development of industrial fishing and giving very little room to the professionals of artisanal fisheries,” said Mr. Mbenga.
Cherno Omar also reiterated the importance of artisanal fishing and the importance of capacity building on the sector in empowering people involve in it.
For his part, Assane Thiam, the Project Coordinator from Dakar, also noted the importance of building the capacity of fishers who are involved in the artisanal fishing sector for them to gain benefits or a better livelihood.
Dr. Ebrima Njie, a lecturer at the University and also a resource person, assured participants of his cooperation towards the attainment of the training’s objectives.