OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has raised concern that Nigeria loses $70 million each year due to illegal fishing activities in the country’s waters by Chinese and other European trawlers.
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to put measures in place to curb illegal fishing activities on Nigeria’s waters.
The green chamber further asked the federal government to review its licensing policy that tends to favour foreign trawlers at the expense of their local counterparts and encourage indigenous investments into this agricultural sector.
It also urged the federal government to prevail on the Gulf of Guinea Commission to urgently introduce a legally binding framework to check excessive fishing or overfishing in the region.
Accordingly, the lawmakers mandated the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services to investigate the matter and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
The House was concerned that illegal fishing in Nigeria’s waters undermines the economy, poses a security threat to the nation’s territorial waters, degrades the coastal communities and renders artisan fishermen redundant.
The following resolutions were reached due to a motion titled “the Need to Curb Fishing by Foreign Vessels on Nigeria’s Territorial Waters” by Patrick Ifon (PDP, Akwa Ibom).
In his debate, Ifon pointed that the nation had a large coastal area rich in marine species, yet over half of the fish it consumes are imported from China and the Netherlands.
He also said that Nigeria was the 4th largest importer of fish in the world with about two million metric tons per annum for an estimated population of over 200 million people.
According to him, “despite Nigeria’s non-fishing agreement and arrangements with distant nations such as China and the European Union, illegal fishing on Nigeria’s waters persists due to bilateral agreements with the nearby Country of Sao Tome and Principe.
“The Overseas Development Institute’s Report of 2018 that illegal fishing boats from China, Netherlands and Spain operating in the Country’s territorial waters commonly transfer catches from their trawlers into container and cargo vessels on the high seas, thereby flouting quota regulations.
“Again, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, which was established in 2001, to check issues bordering on fisheries beyond 20 nautical miles of each member nation is yet to come up with a legally binding framework to tackle illegal fishing activities”, he lamented.