By: Kebba AF Touray
The Gambia’s Fisheries Minister, James Gomez, told the National Assembly that from January to December 2020, a total number of 1857 Gambian youth have been gainfully employed as either desk hand or observers in the industrial sector.
He stated that this is in line with the policy objectives of the fisheries sector of increasing the participation of Gambians in the sector, especially women and youth.
Minister Gomez said this in response to a question asked by the Member for Sanimentereng, Baba Galleh Jallow, who asked the Minister whether his Ministry has plans to invest on trawlers to encourage the youth to venture into the fisheries sector.
“Trawling is a professional undertaken that requires years of in-depth training for one to invest in and that given the experience of the country, the Fisheries Ministry would rather encourage private sector involvement and investment and not government investment in the acquisition of trawlers”, he told Lawmakers.
He added: “Similarly, the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources have provided fourteen boats in 2020 for use by Fishing Communities and also for the training of Gambians to become fishermen. Furthermore, in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization, government is expanding aquaculture development in the value chain, for the involvement of Gambians particularly women and youth Member for Foni Kansala, Musa Amul Nyass, asked the Fisheries Minister to inform the Assembly whether the Sustainable Fishing Agreement between the Gambia and European Union is still in force.
Minister Gomez indicated the Sustainable Fishing Partnership Agreement between the Gambia and European Union is still in force and that is supposed to last for a period of three years from 2019-2025.
Minister Gomez added: “I can safely say that in accordance with the agreement, there is access fee which goes directly to the Central Government. In addition, 275 thousand euro comes to the Department of Fisheries which helps us to build capacity”.
“We have received the first and second year access fee, but for capacity building we only received it once. This is because you have to spend 70 percent of the amount given before you can get the second allocation. We just concluded our meeting two weeks ago and we have reached 74 percent”.
He added: “So we are expecting to receive the second allocation. As regards to employment, I cannot give you exact figure of employment. I know that 20 percent of the crew is Gambians. I have said that this year 2020, we have employed over 1800 Gambians among others as observers”.
Fisheries Minister said the agreement provides for an annual review and that it is reviewed on an annual basis to see if there is need to change something. He however added they could not review it this year because they could not travel. He added they had a virtual meeting.
Minister Gomez said the department of water resources under his Ministry, is currently implementing three projects.
He added the aim of the projects is to provide accessible safe and quality drinking water to the rural populace in the five administrative regions of the Gambia, adding the Climate Smart Rural Wash Project would provide solar powered water supply to communities such as Jarumeh Koto in Sami Constituency.