The Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre (REPRC), EfD Nigeria on October 17, 2019 held a policy interaction with stakeholders from Federal Ministry of Environment and Federal Ministry of Agriculture, fisher folks from different parts of Nigeria, representatives of NGOs, development agencies, and the academia.
Discussions at the Policy Day event, held in Valencia Hotel, Abuja, centered on fishery management in Nigeria and was guided by the research result of Fisheries Performance Indicators (FPI) presented by Dr Ebele Amechina, a Research Fellow in EfD Nigeria.
Presenting findings of the EfD funded research, Dr Amaechina said that Nigerian marine artisanal fishery performed below and worse than the average of all African fisheries and therefore required urgent intervention.
The 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.
In his contribution the Chairman of Nigerian Union of Fishermen and Sea Food Dealers, Badagry, Mr Ashade Moses, blamed the poor performance of artisanal fishing in the country on the incursion of foreign fishermen into the lower shelf, using unapproved instrument.
He said that foreign industrial fishermen 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 of 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.
Mr Ashade’s narrative was corroborated by George Effiong Eshiet from the Ministry of Agriculture, Akwa Ibom, who narrated that foreign fishermen have also taken over artisanal fishing shelf in Akwa Ibom and they were 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 Director of REPRC-EfD, Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone, who anchored the discussion, noted a shortfall in Nigeria’s Fisheries Act of 1992, which he said contained regulations only for industrial fishermen who fish above five nautical miles but contained no regulation for artisanal fishing in the lower shelf.
“It is imperative for policy makers to consider seriously the recommendations of the FPI research”, he said.
“In addition to the recommendations of the research, the regulation should also involve placing restrictions on the sizes of hooks and nets sold to artisanal fishermen in Nigerian markets”, Prof. Pat Okpoko, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, University of Nigeria who represented the Vice-Chancellor said.
Dr Tafar, who represented the Minister of Environment, suggested that the points raised in the policy interactions must be taken seriously; the outcome should be condensed to a policy brief that should be forwarded to other policy makers for further action. He assured that the ministry would work with the Centre to review environmental policies in Nigeria.
Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, who chaired the Policy Day discussion panel, said that the event had revealed the need for research on improved species of fish that could 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 organizing the outreach, stating that the event had produced outcomes that should be articulated to influence policy decisions in fishery.