Regulatory agencies, fishing companies, and other stakeholders in Nigeria’s fisheries and aquaculture sector have decided to work towards making a revised version of the Nigerian Sea Fisheries Act of 1992 by the National Assembly into law.
The reviewed document was produced after a two-day workshop organized by EfD Nigeria, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association. The workshop was held in Lagos on 15th-16th November 2022.
Participants at the workshop included representatives from the Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF), Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFAN), Association of Indigenous Fish Importers, Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association (NITOA), Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), World Aquaculture Society, West African Chapter, Nigerian Navy, artisanal fishermen, and the academia.
The participants considered all sections of the Act and made recommendations on what should form amended law for the sector.
Studies support review
The discussions were guided by research recommendations from EfD Nigeria and submissions made by regulators and industrial actors.
EfD Nigeria has been engaging with stakeholders and policymakers on reviewing the Sea Fisheries Act, which was last updated 30 years ago.
In January 2022, the center shared the findings of its studies on fisheries and aquaculture performance indicators in Nigeria with regulators and industrial players in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
Evidence from the studies and other reviews showed that the fisheries and aquaculture sector is grappling with the challenges of declining fish stock due to over-harvesting, overfishing, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.
The studies also noted concerns about the Vessels Management System(VMS), Blue Economy, Mammals Protection, new fines regime, fishing seasons, determination of total allowable catch, and regulation of artisanal fishermen.
Review will address challenges.
The Director of EfD Nigeria, Dr. Nnaemeka Chukwuone, said that the proposed reviewed document will address the concerns raised in the studies and by stakeholders and boost fish production in the country. He urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to expedite action on sending the document to legislators.
Nnaemeka Chukwuone is optimistic that the process of passing the reviewed document into law can be completed before the tenure of the 9th Nigerian National Assembly expires in 2023.
The Nigerian Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr Ime Umoh promised to set up a committee to check technical details in the reviewed document before the document, with approval of the Federal Executive Council, is sent to the legislators for passage into law.
Report by: Inya Agha Egwu