University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), has urged the Federal Government to conduct studies through effective collaboration of relevant stakeholders to enhance the development of the aquaculture sector in the country.
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Charles Igwe, made the call in Abuja at a one-day workshop on, “A Step towards Improving the Fisheries and Aquaculture in Nigeria,” organised by the Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre (REPRC), and the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative Nigeria, UNN.
He also advised the government to update policies and legal framework to develop a sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management in the country.
Igwe said: “To enhance the growth and effective development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector and achieve the desired objectives, a lot needs to be done.
“Such effort includes conducting studies to find out solutions to the problems in the sector, mobilising stakeholders as well as updating the policies and legal framework for a sustainable fishery management.
“Nigeria is the largest aquaculture producer in sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2017), and aquaculture is still facing a lot of barriers and output per hectare is still very low.
“The sector has remained underdeveloped and performance is poor, notwithstanding the output growth over the years.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted the Vice Chancellor as saying that the sector holds a strategic position in increasing fish production and consumption, even as its contribution to employment and poverty had fallen.
According to him, about 40% of Nigeria`s protein intake is from fisheries, given fish consumption at 13.3kg/person yearly, although below the world average of 20.5kg/person per annum in 2017.
“The total consumption of fish in Nigeria is about 3.2 million metric tons, with 1.2m local production leaving a deficit that is augmented through import,” he said.
Such effort includes conducting studies to find out solutions to the problems in the sector, mobilising stakeholders as well as updating the policies and legal framework for a sustainable fishery management.
To improve output, Igwe said there is a need to report cases of decline in fish stocks and illegal fishing to the appropriate authorities, while reviewing and updating regulation in the sector.
On his part, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to improving the sector to increase domestic production of fish in-country.
Abubakar, represented by the Deputy Director, Fishery Department, Emmanuel Okanlawon, noted that this will also help to reduce importation of frozen fish into Nigeria and enhance growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said: “The Ministry is pursuing a holistic approach to the development of fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector through the diversification programme of the government along the value chain prices.
“The Ministry is willing to partner all relevant stakeholders for development of fisheries and aquaculture for economic growth, wealth and job creation as well as food and nutrition security.”
Similarly, the Director, REPRC/EfD, UNN, Dr Nnaemeka Chukwuone, said the aim of the workshop was to present the findings of two studies on fisheries and aquaculture performance indicators in Nigeria.
He added that the meeting also aims to mobilise stakeholders to discuss the issues regarding fisheries and aquaculture and proffer solutions and the way forward, to strengthen the sector and facilitate sustainable development.