By Yusuf Akinlotan, Lagos
Following low patronage, neglect and several other continuous challenges confronting Fisheries particularly the artesenal, stakeholders and other experts within and outside the country from the fisheries sectors have gathered to map out guidelines to securing sustainable small-scale fisheries (SSF) in Nigeria.
The SSF Guidelines were the major focus when the stakeholders converged on a 3-day National workshop on the awareness for the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries in Nigeria, being organised by the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo with the support of Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO), Worldfish and International Collective in Support of Fishworkers.
The National stakeholders workshop was declared open by the Vice-Chancellor of Lagos state University (LASU) Professor Ibiyemi Tuunji-Bello as it lasted from 9 through 11 of May, 2022.
Speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Science, Lagos State University who was the Chief convener of the Workshop, Professor Sheu Akintola said it was aimed at drawing awareness to the implementation of the SSF guidelines which came into being after series of negotiations on the way to ensure that there is sustainable development within the Small-Scale Fisheries.
On the need for the guidelines for Small-Scale Fisheries in Nigeria, Professor Akintola stated that there was a lot of problems globally and after all the stakeholders; state and non-state actors were consulted over the years by Food and Agriculture Oganisation (FAO) of the UN, a voluntary agreement was reached in 2014 but was drafted in 2015 and Nigeria being a member state also agreed to use the guidelines to manage its fisheries.
“As an academic, I have written chapters on how we can contribute and luckily myself and my colleague, Dr. Kafayah Fakoya were able to get support of FAO through the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) “
“So here in Nigeria we are trying to draw the attention of the stakeholders, government, media, Human right practitioners, youths, fishers, academicians, CSO and everybody because of the challenges being faced by the fishers so that poverty is reduced to the bearest minimal in the sectors” he pointed.
Small-Scale Fisheries remain one of the important resources for developing countries in Africa, including Nigeria. According to Fishery & Aquaculture officer, FAO Regional office for Africa in Ghana, Dr. Dismas Mbabazi, about 90% of Fisheries are small scales which provide a source of food, income for National economy, a way of life for some people and also help in maintaining ecosystem and climate impact.
In his advice on the effective implementation of the SSF guidelines, Fishery & Aquaculture managament expert, Mr Obinna Anozie of the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal resources (AU-IBAR) Kenya , believed that having attracted top international organisations, the forum should create a platform of key actors and institutions be established for proper implementation of the guidelines even to the National level as Nigeria being a big nation.
Meanwhile the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire who joined the workshop virtually assured the participants that Nigerian government is committed to Partnership towards ensuring that Small-Scale Fisheries deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Part of the recommendations at the end of the delibrations included improving on the welfare of Fisherfolks, more government funding of Fisheries sectors as well as collection and provision of gender disaggregated data that adequately capture the imput of women in Fisheries.
Amongst International experts, researchers and academics who contributed to the workshop virtually supporting the implementation of the SSF Guidelines included Ms Lena Westlund, International Fisheries Analyst, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr. Kendra Byrd, Senior Research Fellow, Nutrition and Food Systems University of Greenwich Natural Resources Institute, Dr. Philippa Cohen, Consultant to WorldFish and Adjunct Research Fellow at James Cook University, Australia, Prof. Emeritus Svein Jentoft, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, as well as others from within Nigeria and the continent.