By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Fisheries James F Gomez, has disclosed to Members of the National Assembly that the fisheries sector has generated four hundred and sixty-one million, six hundred and twenty-one thousand and twenty-two dalasi and one butut (D461,621, 022.01), from 2017 to date.
Minister Gomez outlined a breakdown of the generated revenue as follows:-
- Revenue from fishing license amounts to D141,370,412.59;
- Revenue from 10 percent from landing is D209,121,472.25;
- Revenue from arrested vessels D31,760,000;
- Revenue from the EU-Gambia SFPA is D71,829,399.16, and
- Revenue from the Senegalo-Gambian Agreement is D7,539,738.01.
Minister Gomez said this on Monday 28th June 2021, during his appearance before legislators and delivered a ministerial statement, following his summon by them to appear and provide an update on the status Gambia’s fish stock.
Gomez said the fisheries sector is divided into three sub sectors namely industrial, artisanal and aquaculture sub sectors. He said 12 fish processing establishments and three fish mill plants have been established; that industrial fishing has created employment for 2,809 Gambian youth of which 2,124 are deckhands and 685 as fisheries observers during the period.
Minister Gomez also said 186 fish landing sites operate in small-scale artisanal fisheries sub-sectors of which 10 are allocated within the Atlantic Coast, with over 14,000 artisanal operatives engaged in fish drying as well. This number he said, does not include young women and youth involved in loading and unloading fish from the boats.
Similarly, he said a combined 4,234 fishermen operate in the sub-sector.
Speaking further, the Minister said aquaculture represents an additional source of animal protein and contributes to food security, as well as reducing pressure on wild stocks such as the demersal stock. He however stated that the country is well positioned for fresh, brackish and marine fish farming, adding that the provision of these facilities will enhance food and nutrition security and economic development. He said 37 aquaculture ponds and 17 oyster harvesting and processing sites are operating.
“Fisheries contribute 12 percent to GDP and the livelihoods of well over 200,000 Gambians are critically dependent on it and its related activities. It is the third largest sector after agriculture and tourism in the country,” he said.
Minister Gomez lamented that the fisheries sector is with constraints, such as ecological, biological, technical, managerial and industrial, including high cost of energy, high interest rates, inadequate knowledge about sustainable fish resources among others, and the constraints are limiting the sector’s contribution to food security, poverty eradication and overall economic development.
He said Government in collaboration with development partners and stakeholders, implemented programs such as TCP support, in upgrading the Ministry’s website; that a TCP pilot project on the FTT improved fish smoking in Gunjur, FAO ‘FRidjott Nansen survey are few among the lot, and they all come to support the management and development of the sector.
Dilating on the recent fish saga that went viral on social media, he explained that on 18th June 2021, there was bumper harvest of Sardinella fondly called Yaboye at Tanji landing site; that as such, the fish cannot all be sold by women fish processors or other middlemen including those using refrigerated trucks for marketing and distributing up country.
“The remaining fish could not be preserved due to lack of adequate ice because of electricity outage. This resulted in spoilage. This situation happened only at the Tanji Fish Landing site, contrary to other reports and is highly regrettable as it was beyond control,” he said. He also cited that consultations are ongoing between the Ministry, the Department of Fisheries and their stakeholders to avoid re-occurrence of what he described as an undesirable post-harvest loss.