Experts outline policies to developing West African aquaculture

Ena Okwanihe, Abuja

Stakeholders in Fisheries and Aquaculture in West Africa have reviewed the roadmap for development and recommended policies and implementation strategies to boost the contribution of the sector to food security, nutrition and poverty reduction in the sub region.

A 3-day meeting held recently in Abuja Nigeria’s capital saw stakeholders taking measure steps on the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Regional Policy and Strategy Framework for member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The meeting saw participants unanimously agreeing that the challenges of reconciling national policies, country stability and ownership of the process by the main actors has affected the development of the sector in West Africa.

Participants recommended that all participants should add requisite inputs, peculiar to their countries, in the amended roadmap; they also requested the Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development of ECOWAS to share the amalgamated Terms of Reference and the composition of the Regional Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture as amended.

Acting FAO Country representative Patrick David while speaking during the workshop said the absence of a framework to improve coordination and ensure effective cooperation in actions for the benefit of the sector was hindering the development of fishery and aquaculture at the regional level.

Fish, especially small pelagic species, is still the main source of protein animal, widely available for about 60 per cent of households in the ECOWAS zone. The sector has also employed millions of people including fishermen, processors and fish traders, as well as other associated jobs, thus generating significant revenue for all these households in coastal areas,’’ David said.

Also speaking, the Head of Regional Cooperation Section in the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS Stefania Marrone, said many actions were identified and €15million has being dedicated for the programme, which would last for six years, financial agreement has being signed.

We hope that this programme would achieve good coordination between all the stakeholders involved in the fisheries and maritime activity on the Gulf of West Africa.”

ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Tchambakou Ayassor recognised the importance of fisheries in the socio-economic life of the population of member states, as he acknowledged that the fisheries and aquaculture sector still faces several challenges despite the effort been done.

Participants  were drawn from the 15 member states of ECOWAS, Mauritania, technical and financial partners including the African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Fisheries, Water Basins and River organizations to deliberate on the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture Regional Policy and Strategy Framework for member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),

With support from the European Union (EU), the workshop was organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in partnership with the regional body – ECOWAS.