Effective policies needed to tackle Nigeria’s oversize fish demand
FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE globally contribute to the livelihoods of 800 million people and provide 3.2 billion people with 20 percent of their animal protein. Fish is a rich source of micronutrients and essential fatty acids, which are critical to cognitive and physical development. In low-income countries, fish is often the cheapest and most accessible animal-source food.
And to meet future demand for fish, particularly in developing countries, production will need to double by 2030, according to global research partnership for a food secure future. Therefore, the scale of this challenge requires research innovations across the whole spectrum of aquaculture and fisheries production systems and value chains.
But locally, stakeholders do not see Nigeria maximizing the full potential of the fish industry or aligning efforts to prepare for this future demand.
In March, the government acknowledged that a supply gap of about 2.1 million metric tonnes of fish exists alongside an annual national fish demand of 3.2 million metric tonnes. The national production is pegged at 1.1million metric tonnes from all sources, including aquaculture, artisanal and industrial fishing sectors, inducing the supply shortfall of 2.1 million metric tonnes that opens the country to reliance on importation. Such importation is what Nigeria Bureau of Statistics attributes to 13.31 percent growth in food inflation in September from 13.16 in August.
This gap remains a source of worry to stakeholders who believe that the country could in lieu of expending about N288 billion on importation, achieve self-sufficiency in domestic production by adopting the right approach.
Concerned by the persistence of this deficit, stakeholders at a forum on Review of National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policies for Coherence/Alignment with the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy (PFRS) for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa, urged the government to improve the management and production in fisheries and aquaculture for food security and economic growth.
To achieve that, they stressed that the government needs to improve fisheries management systems, infrastructure, value chain investments, and encourage private sector investment to increase the availability of quality sea fishes. It also supports reforms in fisheries policies and regulations.
Foluke Areola, the national consultant, African Union Inter Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), said the fisheries sector is a major driver for growth as the marine and coastal fisheries have significant potential for sustainable and higher production.
For her, it is imperative that Nigeria Fisheries Policy become more efficient in managing and conserving the sector’s resources to the benefit of the people.
“Two survey questionnaires which served to monitor the alignment of National and Regional Fisheries and Aquaculture Policies with the PFRS for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa and to survey the implementation of the PFRS for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa with reference to Nigeria, have been completed and submitted to AU-IBAR. The surveys were completed with the active participation of the Federal Department of Fisheries & Aquaculture.”
According to her, the initiative could form the baselines on which the successes of the National Policies would be measured in subsequent years.
“This would be in a similar manner to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Member Country questionnaires, for monitoring the implementation of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCFR) that are completed annually by countries.”
Generally, the stakeholders recommended promotion of research-based policy that will lead to development of indigenous ornamental fishery, updating national data on fisheries and encouraging artisanal fishers to collaborate and form cooperatives.
Others were a policy to take care of post-harvest storage for artisanal fishers, develop a National Action Plan to implement the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries within African Union Policy framework.
The forum called for a policy that would enable national and state governments partner at all levels to identify the contribution of artisanal fisheries to economic importance in the coastal areas among others.
Similarly, David Shearer, WorldFish Director, who has been leading transformative ideas around self-sufficiency of inland fisheries believes it is necessary to invest in researches and apply needed resources to ensure access to improved fish seed by 80 percent of fish farmers, a 20 percent increase in aquaculture production, a 10-30 percent reduction in fish imports, improved household nutrition and employment creation for youth in the value chain, in a separate report.
“By applying proven innovative technologies, the aquaculture value chains across the continent will be transformed. By embracing new technologies and ways of doing things, Africa is likely to catch up and surpass other aquaculture-producing regions of the world, thereby enhancing food security, creating jobs and uplifting the livelihoods of rural women and the youth,” Harrison, country director, WorldFish Egypt and Nigeria said.
But locally, stakeholders do not see Nigeria maximizing the full potential of the fish industry or aligning efforts to prepare for this future demand