By Kebba Jeffang
The Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources under the Governance of West African Marine Eco-Region project being implemented by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on Tuesday, 21 October, 2014 at the Tango hall at Fajara launched the National Platform for Sustainability of Fisheries.
With support from the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the event brought together local stakeholders from various fish landing sites and committees around the country.
Presiding over the official launching of the platform, Dr. Bamba Banja, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, spoke at length on the importance of having such a national platform. He said the platform would promote governance management to galvanize efforts to reduce poverty, while applying sustainable measures for socio-economic development of the West Africa Marine Eco-Region (WAMER) member countries.
The Fisheries PS said the Go-WAMER project began implementation in six of the seven countries of the WAMER eco-region namely, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.
He noted that the main objectives of the project, among others, are to contribute to poverty reduction and strengthen food security in the coastal communities of West Africa Marine Eco-Region (WAMER) through the improvement of governance and to promote the adoption of best practices in terms of sustainable utilization of marine and coastal resources in the eco-region.
“The main objective of Go-WAMER is in agreement with the government’s policy objectives for ensuring the long-term rational utilization of fisheries resources,” said Dr. Banja.
The fisheries sector, he noted, contributes significantly to the social, cultural and economic well-being of coastal estuary and fresh water fishing communities in The Gambia, adding that it also significantly contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as fish forms a significant portion of animal protein.
The Fisheries and Water Resources PS highlighted the threat being posed to these benefits as a result of the impact of climate change, poor and inadequate management practices, the use of inappropriate fishing techniques, as well as the ever increasing challenges of illegal, unreported and unregulated IUU fishing.
Dr Banja said to overcome this challenges requires joint efforts from government institutions, the community and civil society organizations, NGOs and other development partners working together to enhance general sharing and flow of information on IUU and other illegal fishing applications.
“The launching of the national platform for sustainable fisheries of the Gambia is timely, appropriate and in the right direction, particularly when the government is working with stakeholders and development partners to improve the conservation and management of the fisheries resources,” said the Fisheries PS.
Fisheries PS concluded that as the ministry responsible for the management and development of fisheries in The Gambia, they are urging the national platform for sustainable fisheries to work with all partners to bring about sustainable success in the conservation and management of fisheries, including other natural resources.
Mr. Alagie Manjang, WWF-Country Coordinator, hailed WWF-VAMPO for initiating such a platform, thanks to the EU and UNDP supported project, which has a sub-regional dimension and is being implemented in six fisheries member countries namely, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.
He said the Go-WAMER project aims to strengthen governance, policy management of marine and coastal resources, poverty reduction and food security in six of the seven-member fisheries commission.
“The principal objective is to improve governance and promote adoption of best practices for sustainable use of marine and coastal resources in WAMER, thus contribute to poverty reduction and realization of food security,” he added.
He emphasised that the livelihoods of these communities are directly dependent on these resources within the marine and coastal plateau.
“The resources for which they depend on are continuously exploited. That is why we are making efforts to try to balance that relationship between nature and human,” said the WWF Country Coordinator.
Mr. Manjang said the office in the Gambia works with the line ministries to galvanize efforts to sustainably manage the natural resources, adding that the creation of the National Platform for Fisheries is quite fitting because it would enable them to act and work with the members of the alliance to ensure these resources are sustainably managed.
For his part, Mr. Famara Darboe, the Director of Fisheries, said the launching of the project is one of the key objectives of the Fisheries department, adding that for results to be achieved all the actors must be involved.
“Sustainability of the fisheries sector is important for both present and future generations to come,” he added.
The Fisheries Director urged the member organizations to the platform to ensure that the platform remains viable in their crusade to sustainably manage the platform.
Darrell Sexton, European Union Focal Point for Go-WAMER, said the EU in the past years provided support to the sub-region marine area for the good management of natural resources. He expressed happiness to be associated with the event.