The Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Fisheries, with funding from Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), conducted a comprehensive review of the entire fisheries and aquaculture sector and developed a Draft Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020 through a rigorous stakeholders’ consultation.
This draft was subjected to a validation on Thursday 7 April, 2016, at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau.
In his welcoming remark, Mr. Abdoulie Jarra, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries, said the fisheries and aquaculture sectors have become a major priority area for development in the country.
He noted that there had been grave concerns over the declining performance of this important sector in terms of its contribution to socio-economic development of the country.
Citing a report of the FAO on the fisheries resources, PS Jarra said 57% already fully exploited, 29.9% over exploited and only 12.7% under exploited.
The Fisheries PS noted that considering the situation surrounding the fisheries resources, UNGA, FAO, multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as CITES and CBD as well as regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have been engaged in active discussions for strengthening conservation and management of fishery resources.
He noted that these discussions are not limited to the conventional discussions on fisheries management such as establishment of catch quota and compliance thereof.
“The Ministry and its line department, in collaboration with the FAO, commissioned the formulation of this Fisheries and Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan 2016-2020 with the objective of promoting fisheries for enhanced contribution to poverty reduction and overall socio-economic development,” said the Fisheries PS.
He concluded by calling on the participants to thoroughly examine the draft and give their input for its finalization.
In her statement, Madam Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, the FAO Representative said the Gambia continues to face challenges to food security, including low productivity, high production costs and a lack of modern techniques and technology, adding that to overcome these challenges, food security has over the years stood out as the top government development priority.
In the Gambia, said the FAO Rep, the fisheries sector contributes to the national economy and livelihood of the population and with the potential to make significant contribution to improved food security and in all she said, the fisheries sector contributes 12% of the GDP.
Dr. Katepa-Kalala said an estimated 200,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods and that fish and fishery products are important ingredients of the diet in The Gambia with an estimated catches of 53,000 tons in 2015 from the artisanal subsector.
She said fish is also an important source of income for those engaged in fish processing and marketing, many of whom are women and also important globally.
The FAO Country Rep further noted that the sector offers a great opportunity for employment, economic benefits and is one of the major and cheapest sources of animal protein that contributes to improving dietary diversity and the nutritional status of the nation and that she said a number of economic, social, institutional, physical and technical constraints are impeding the sustainable development, growth and management of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
It is against this background, she said, that Government requested for FAO’s technical and financial support for the formulation of a Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Action Plan for 2015- 2020 and FAO agreed to provide this support through a TCP facility.
Dr Katepa-Kalala said what the TCP facility seeks to develop the fisheries and aquaculture sector through a comprehensive review of the entire fisheries and aquaculture sector and development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector strategy and action plan and that the strategy is expected to contribute to the upcoming National Development Plan, the successor to the current PAGE.