Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), in collaboration with the Department
of Fisheries, organized a three-day capacity building for fishing communities
in the industry.
The training was held to build capacities of the fishing communities to improve in fishing handling, processing, quality control and waste management and for community based organizations to be strengthened and maintain effective sustainable management.
The training, which brought together large number of participants across the country, was held at the Nana Conference Centre from 19-21 October.
The Training is funded by the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).
In his official opening on behalf of the minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Director of Fisheries Matarr Bah said: “This FAO-TCP project is for the development of the artisanal fisheries in The Gambia with the main objective of assisting the Government to enhance the development of artisanal fisheries sub-sector and related activities through responsible fishing so fish stocks are maintained.
He said fish quality and safety cannot be overemphasised because it has a direct bearing on the wellbeing of the people in terms of improved nutritional status and general health conditions of the citizenry.
Mr Bah said the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources “will undertake the necessary steps and reforms to ensure that Fisheries Act of 2007 and the Fisheries regulations of 2008 reflect the current realities on the ground”.
He said: “The TCP programme will make copies of the Act and regulations to the fishers so they are better able to take full responsibilities of protection and conservation of the fisheries waters in their various localities of operations to curb the practice of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities.”
Delivering a speech on behalf of FAO Country Representative, Sira Njai Sanyang, programme officer for FAO, said the fisheries sector is important economically and socially in that the sector provides sustainable livelihoods, proteins of high nutritional value and revenues for fishing communities and the nation as a whole.
In The Gambia, she noted, the fisheries sector contributes to the national economy and the livelihoods of the population, with the potential to make significant contribution to improved food security, as the fisheries sector contributes 12% of the GDP.
“An estimated 200,000 people are directly or indirectly dependent on artisanal fisheries and its related activities for their livelihoods.
Fish and fishery products are important ingredients of diet in The Gambia with an estimated catches of 53,000 tonnes in 2015 from the artisan sub-sectors.
It is also an important source of income for those engaged in fish processing and marketing many of whom are women.
“Artisan’s fish processing contributes significantly to the socio-economic development of the country and the livelihoods of the people in The Gambia in which women form the majority in fish processing and trade activities.
She further noted that the training for the fisheries extension staff and fisheries operators in low-cost storage and packaging of different types of fisheries end-products came in a timely manner.
It is envisaged that it will enhance the capacities of community-based organizations and other relevant stakeholders for the development of the fisheries value chain.
This, Mrs Sanyang said, would enable the reduction of post-harvest losses, and would help produce quality fish and fish products, all resulting in high value added and increased income for fisheries and other fisheries value chain actors.
According to her, FAO had been providing an unabated support to the fisheries sector of the country.
She thanked the Gambia government for the “excellent relationship” FAO “enjoys with government partners”, as she reaffirmed our commitment to deepening collaboration and cooperation with the Government of The Gambia.