By Cherno Omar Bobb
The minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, James F. P. Gomez, has said the Gambia has great potential in our fisheries industry but was quick to add that to achieve those potentials we need to develop certain issues in the industry.
He made these remarks recently at Tamala Beach Hotel during the debriefing session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) fact-finding mission in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in The Gambia.
Minister Gomez stated that the government as an actor can only facilitate but the people on the ground need to do the work.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the operation of fisheries landing sites, saying there is need for them to be developed. He further said that: “We want to have a situation where government can facilitate the involvement of more young people in the fisheries industry and ensure they have startup capital and/or equipment.”
Mr. Gomez noted that by all fisheries actors in the country coming together as one they can make a big difference, adding that if fisheries are working in any country is because they have a common agenda.
According to him, now is the time for Gambians to take over the fisheries industry.
He highlighted that Gambians have not been fully benefiting from the fisheries industry but by working together they can achieve a lot.
Dr Amadou Tall, ECOWAS fact-finding mission team member in his presentation on their preliminary findings said 90 percent of fishing vessels legally operating in the Gambia were foreign owned. He called for the African Development Bank (AfDB) funding to be aligned to the National Fisheries & Aquaculture Investment Plans that have regional elements; aligning technical support (FAO, USAID, IFAD,) programs with Regional Framework; promote greater collaboration with Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) and Convention Projects; as well as linking fisheries to Regional Security-Humanitarian-Development Axis.
The fact-finding mission team concluded by recommending for the establishment of a national coordination mechanism; ensure coherence of fisheries and aquaculture to national development policies; put in place a mechanism for broad-based participatory policy dialogue and fisheries management, particularly the non-state actors; identify policy pathways necessary for effective wealth; put in place pragmatic approaches to fisheries governance and institutional reforms; and iinstitute a process of mutual accountability to reforms and investments in fisheries and aquaculture.
The general objective of the fact-finding mission was to identify key and relevant elements of needs to prepare a project proposal in fisheries and aquaculture for youth and women participation to be submitted under Government of The Gambia approval and endorsement and development partners funding while the specific objectives were to analysis the situation and indicate the needs for the fisheries and aquaculture sector; and elaborate on a road map to address issues and challenges of the sector, including women entrepreneurship and youths’ decent jobs of the sector.