By Hatab Nyang
There has been another abundant catch of juvenile fish at the Tanje fish landing site last Tuesday, December 22nd 2020, with many pointing fingers of blame on the Fisheries Ministry for allowing this to go on.
The Fisheries Officer at Tanje Binta Colley, said juvenile fishing is against Gambian law and if anyone is caught in the process, the person will be taken to Court.
In a question put to her by this reporter on the size of juvenile fish, Colley said juvenile fish should be 19cm and below; adding 19cm is the average. She said it is necessary for the Ministry to revive this measurement because it is inappropriate; that if a person is taken to Court based on the present measurements they have, he may win his or her case due to the inadequacy of the measurement. She said this is not right measurement to determine whether a fish is juvenile or not and the Ministry should review it.
On the use of fishing nets with very small holes, Colley said the law does not ban fishermen from using these types of nets but caution that they are not allowed to catch juvenile fish; that in case they catch them, they should throw them back into the sea for them to grow to maturity. According to her,
big boats should use up to size 12 nets and the small boats are allowed to used size 40 but instead, some of them use size 36 up to size 28 nets.
The PRO of All Artisanal Fisheries Cooperative Association (AFICOSA) Omar Gaye, elaborated that they are empowered by the Fisheries Ministry to regulate illegal fishing only in word.
‘‘The Ministry neither provided us with badges nor uniforms and there is no written document that empowers us to make any arrest of anyone found wanting.”
Gaye urged the Fisheries Ministry to Officially recognize his institution in the face of challenges to stop this illegal fishing of juvenile fish within Gambian waters, in showing his displeasure of what is going on in Tanje; He said if the Government does not do anything about it, there will be no fish in the Gambia in the long run because people are violating the law every day.
He urged Government to empower Gambian fishermen instead of foreign fishermen.
Gaye said Fishmeal plants should not sign contract with Senegalese boats to fish in our waters and sell their fish to them. He again urged Government to empower ‘self’ before ‘others’ especially foreigners. Gaye continued to say that the number of boats ordered from Senegal to fish in our waters by Fishmeal plants, are many. He added that Government should control this or they will destroy our seas. According to him, the kind of fishing nets they use coupled with over-fishing, would eventually spell doom for the country’s fisheries sector.