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Fisheries minister says sector employs over 200,000 Gambians

The Fisheries minister, Mass Axi Gye, has disclosed that more than 200,000 Gambians are directly or indirectly employed by the nation’s fisheries sector.

Speaking recently at the launching of the regional fisheries project on Monitoring the Environment and Security in Africa (MESA), Gye acknowledged that fish as a significant protein; its benefits are threatened as a result of poor management practices and the ever increasing challenges from the Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing practices. He added that the main challenges to fisheries resources in the world today, are due to inadequate or lack of requisite information and data.

The MESA project, he explained, seeks to increase the information management, decision-making and planning capacity of African continent, regional and national institutions mandated for environment, climate, food security and related responsibilities, by enhancing access to and exploitation of relevant earth observation applications in Africa.

The project is expected to be boosted by the use of technology such as the use of earth observation through satellites, he added. Minister Gye informed that an art observation using satellite technology is presently providing continued data for monitoring the environment and its resources.

The Fisheries minister described this ECOWAS project as the first of its kind launched by his Ministry.

He added: “The objective of this project is to increase the information management, decision-making and planning capacity of ECOWAS institutions responsible for the coastal and marine resource management by entrenched action through an exploitation of relevant earth observation data. This project came at a time when the government, under the leadership of President Jammeh, is making all the necessary efforts and working very hard to improving the management and the deployment of the fisheries resources with the aim of achieving the national policy objectives for the fisheries sector.

“As the minister responsible for fisheries, I am very much aware of the role that the fisheries contribute to our economy. Fisheries resources contribute significantly to the socio-cultural and economic wellbeing of the coastal communities in The Gambia”.

The Fisheries minister said the project is expected, among other things, to build the capacity of fisheries officers, scientists and key stakeholders and enable them to have better access to art observation, data and services related to managing the coastal and marine environment and its resources.

“It will also provide information on potential fishing zones map, monitoring and forecasting of the ocean conditions to ensure safety in any marine activities in the country. Therefore, the provision of the timely information on ocean surface waves and current can help prevent some of the negative impact that might be caused to the users of the marine and coastal environment. Another benefit of the project is to improve networking among institutions,” he noted.

The representative from the ECOWAS Commission, Samuel Medu at the launching, congratulated The Gambia government for launching this new project, which he said, was first proposed through the Ouagadougou Declaration, signed in September 2010 by the African Union Commission, the ACP Secretariat and the African Regional Economic Communities. The Declaration, he said, aims to ensure continuity of past investments on the use of earth observation data in Africa.

The project duration, he said, is 36 months and that at the end, five major outcomes are expected.

The director, Administration and Finance at the National Environment Agency (NEA), Muhammed Denton, recalled when the MESA was first initiated by ECOWAS with a slogan: ‘Water management for Agricultural and Pastoral Land.’ He underscored that the importance of earth observation to monitor the environment is overwhelmingly taking into consideration.

The permanent secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, Dr. Bamba Banja, who chaired the meeting, called for knowledge sharing with a view to making the project sustainable and vibrant.

Author: Bekai Njie & Fatou Gassama