President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the purchase of patrol vessels to reduce unregulated fishing activities and boost security on the country’s waterways.
The vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed this on Friday at the 10th Annual Ministerial Conference of the Fisheries Committee for West, Central Gulf of Guinea, FCWC, in Abuja.
He said that the safety of the nation’s waterways remained a key priority to the current administration.
The vice-president also said the Federal Government was determined to reduce fish imports into the country, saying that the efforts were already yielding significant results.
Mr Osinbajo noted that within 2017, local fish production had increased from 450, 000 tonnes in early January to 1.1 million tonnes.
“The safety of Nigerian maritime is also a principal concern to us.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the purchase of some patrol vessels for the Department of Fisheries, which would be managed with the collaboration of the Nigerian Navy.
“These vessels will boost the search and rescue capacities of the relevant security agencies, deter illegal fishing and help secure our vessels at sea,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo said that earlier this year, President Buhari also approved establishment of the Lake Chad Naval Base to boost security and fast-track the restoration of livelihoods in the zone.
“The theme of this conference, which is to invest in the growth and sustainability of fishery in West Africa, is important; even in terms of sharing experience and laying aspiration for the economic well-being of our people.
“Our effort to reduce fish imports and increase local fish production by encouraging the private sector to invest in the aquaculture is yielding positive result.
“The domestic fish production, for example, in the last two years has increased from 450,000 tonnes to 1.1million tonnes and we hope that this growth will be exponential,’’ he said.
Mr Osinbajo called for the support of the regional aquaculture industry, which he described as an efficient employer of labour.
He said that as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to support the Fisheries Committee, a sum of 200, 000 U.S. dollars had been paid to the FCWC, while the outstanding sum would be paid shortly.
In his opening remarks, James Kollie, the Chairman of the conference of FCWC, urged the participants to explore opportunities that would enable the fishery resources of the region to boost its economic growth in a sustainable manner.
According to him, the potential of fishery goes beyond resources found in the maritime environment but concerns its status as a reliable employer of labour.
Mr Kollie, who is Liberia’s Minister of Fishery, said: “Fish is a source of animal protection for more than 375 million people in West Africa.
“It is also a viable economic resource that provides employment and livelihood for over 100 million people in the region.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, urged the participants to take the issues relating to effective management of fishery resources seriously.
He said that the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing deserved collective efforts, which should be sustained.
Mr Lokpobiri lauded the FCWC for the appropriateness of the theme chosen for the conference: “Investment for Growth and Sustainability in Fisheries in West Africa.’’
The participants at the conference include delegates from Nigeria, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Togo.
Others are representatives of the African Union, AU, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.