By Hatab Nyang
The association of fishermen from Barra to Kartong, have cautioned the Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters over the extension of the date on night fishing as opposed to what was earlier indicated.
The stakeholders who invited journalists at Tanji Fishing Center on Monday 31st May 2021 in reaction to the Fisheries Ministry’s extension of the date on night fishing, said they were written to by the Ministry alerting them about the extension of the date on night fishing; that the Ministry’s letter indicated that night fishing will continue until the 1st of July 2021, instead of 1st June as was agreed by all stakeholders.
Seedy Chorr, the Vice President of the All Artisanal Fisheries Cooperative Association (AFICOSA), said the Fisheries Minister has the mandate to close and open night fishing and all fishing activities in the country. He however said this should be done in consultation with the direct dealers and users of the said resource and that such an extension should be based on scientific facts.
According to Chorr, this is the third year that they are in disagreement with the Fisheries Ministry, regarding the closure of night fishing; that last year, night fishing was closed on 1st August instead of 1st June, which to him was not favourable to stakeholders in the industry.
Chorr alleged that the Ministry is shifting the dates on nigh fishing to favour Fishmeal Factories and nothing else, instead of considering the Gambian population, first before any other.
Omar Gaye, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of AFICOSA, said they have been grappling with such issues since 2018 with the Fisheries Ministry; that in 2020, the Minister assured them that opening and closing on night fishing will be done through the agreement date by all stakeholders.
“We want sustainability of our fish resources and if we do not close when Senegal has, there will be over fishing in our waters and this can eventually deplete our sea resource,” Gaye said; that vessels that have been given license by the Ministry are semi industrial vessels capable of catching more than 50 tonnes of fish during one haul; that according to the amended regulations of the Fisheries Act 2019, this has been changed and any vessel that catches more than 50 tonnes now, is considered an industrial vessel.
Fatou Pierre Choye, president of the National Association for Artisanal Fishing Operators (NAAFO), said closing night fishing on 1st June was discussed and decided by fishermen, fish mongers and all other stakeholders in the country, after they met with the Minister.
She said everyone agreed on the said date because closing night fishing allows fish to breed without hindrance, which means the sustainability of the country’s main natural resource.
All those who spoke to this reporter, reiterated the same as previous speakers, highlighting the importance of the timely closure of night fishing for the sustainability of the country’s main natural resource.
This reporter visited various beaches on 1st June to verify the aforementioned claims and found out that many boats were coming from Senegal to fish in Gambian waters mainly because Senegal has closed her waters to fishermen for night fishing on 1st June 2021.
This, as the stakeholders outlined above, will encourage overfishing in the country’s waters.
This reporter will contact the authorities of the Fisheries Ministry for them to explain their side of the above story and inform the readership accordingly.