2.5 Million-Tonne Fish Demand Gap To Widen Without Development Plans

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Aquaculture and fisheries management specialists have called on the government at all levels to emplace and implement the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines).

The guidelines will also boost fish productivity and will help to close the 2.5 million metric tonnes supply deficit. These were disclosed during a three-day hybrid national stakeholders’ advocacy and capacity-building workshop on the implementation of the SS guidelines in Nigeria held at Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos.

The workshop was organised by LASU, in collaboration with the FAO, International Collective in Support of Fish Workers (ICSF) and World-Fish. The workshop pointed out the relevance of small-scale fisheries within the quest for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and emphasised the need to apply a human rights approach in the sustainable management of small-scale fisheries. The session exposed the participants to experiences from other countries (Tanzania and Sri Lanka) already implementing the SSF Guidelines.

The technical sessions were achieved by splitting about 30 selected participants from different stakeholder groups into two working groups with the objectives of evaluating the level of awareness among stakeholders, identifying inherent challenges to the implementation of the SSF Guideline in Nigeria and formulating an action plan toward the SSF Guidelines implementation, among others.

The workshop also focused on capacity development aimed at ensuring that the stakeholders up their activities, get informed and develop requisite skills to embrace activities taking place at the continental level, especially with the Pan-African Platform of non-state actors (NSAs) in Fisheries and Aquaculture (AFRIFISH).

Stakeholders observed some challenges limiting small-scale fisheries (SSF) and the implementation of the SSF Guidelines in Nigeria, such as declining catches, inconsistent policies, and poor policy implementation.

Despite Nigeria being a signatory to the SDGs, small-scale fisheries have not been developed as an integral part for attaining the SDGs. Also, the traditional fisheries authorities, though recognized as de facto managers with some reciprocity, in the real sense, little jurisdiction or institutional integration exists between the traditional fishers and the state.