FishNet Alliance Tasks Policy Makers On Consultation, Inclusion, Engagement With Artisanal Fishers

By Edu Abade                                                        

A group that advances the rights of fishermen to better livelihood in the coastal areas, FishNet Alliance, has urged policy makers in the country’s maritime domain to consult, include and engage artisanal fishers to preserve their occupation and their right to improved life.

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Speaking on the sidelines of this year’s World Fisheries Day (WFD), the group pointed out that Nigeria has a coastline of about 853km with Lagos, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River as littoral states, adding that 28 of the 36 states in Nigeria are navigable by the connecting inland waters that stretch about 10,000km, encircling whole communities in some cases and in other cases, linking one community to another.
In a statement made available to journalists, it said coastal areas in Nigeria face various challenges, such as coastal erosion, flooding, over exploitation of fish and other aquatic resources, marine and coastal pollution, mangrove depletion and Nipa palm invasion.

“Across Africa, more than one-fourth (27 percent) of the population living within 5 km from the coast depend on artisanal fishing for job opportunities. In Nigeria, over 80 percent of domestic fish production is generated by artisanal fishers. A sector as important as this, which meets the animal protein needs of millions of Africans, deserves to be better recognised and supported.

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“As the world marks the World Fisheries Day, it should be a time for reflection on the key issues affecting fisheries, particularly the artisanal and small-scale fisheries.

A report published in 2021 showed how 10 countries-China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the U.S.A., Thailand, Taiwan, Spain, Indonesia and Norway-spent over $15.3 billion on harmful fishing subsidies.

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The report also showed how fishing vessels not only exploited their seas but how they fished in high seas in other countries and engaged in overcapacity, overfishing, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Another challenge faced by small-scale fishers is the issue of oil and gas pollution. Oil and gas exploration and exploitation as well as their associated infrastructure have proven to be one of the worst challenges in recent time. Also, the issue of sand-filling of traditional fishing grounds like the one being experienced by the Makoko people in Lagos State, Nigeria, affects fishing practices too,” it stated.

FishNet Alliance also stated that this year’s theme: Building Enabling Policy Environments for Small-scale Artisanal Fisheries, should evoke a sense of responsibility, accountability, equity, fairness, justice and inclusivity, insisting that artisanal fishers must be consulted and included in the preparation of policies for aquatic environments as their knowledge could help shape such policies into pro-people and pro-environment policies.

Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, who lamented the impacts of the oil well fire that has been burning for over three years now, said it is shocking that the government and oil and gas companies would allow the Ororo-1 Well inferno to continue for over three years off the coast of Awoye in Ondo State without making any attempt to stop it.

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Bassey raised concerns following the continuous burning of the Ororo Well, adding: “Huge amounts of hydrocarbons and climate-harming greenhouse gases are being released into the environment. Why is the government quiet? Who will clean up, remediate and restore the already destroyed environment?

“For a government that professes emphasis on the so-called blue economy, this atrocious negligence suggests that government is ready to sacrifice our environment and the communities that depend on natural resources. This year’s World Fisheries Day offers a good opportunity for the government to have a change of heart and urgently do the needful.”

He also stressed that the government must learn to work with coastal communities for better environmental management.

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Also speaking, Coordinator of FishNet Alliance, Stephen Oduware, noted that communities like Kono in Ogoniland, which have used local and cultural means to preserve a mangrove area, need to be recognised, promoted and supported, maintaining that policymakers must bring artisanal fishers to the policy-making table to make contributions that will further strengthen maritime policies in the country.

FishNet Alliance is a network of fishers engaged in and promoting sustainable fishing practices in line with ecosystem limits. We stand in solidarity against destructive extractive activities in water bodies, including rivers, lakes and oceans.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600,

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