The minister of Fisheries and Water Resources, James F. Gomez has acknowledged there is illegal fishing in The Gambia, warning that it should be seen as a crime.
Mr. Gomez made this remarks yesterday at the annual general meeting of association of The Gambia Fisheries Observers held at the NaNa conference hall in Bakau.
He explained that the fishing industry is a vibrant sector and it can become like the tourism sector because there is potential in the fishing industry. He added that there should be accountability and transparency for the fishing industry to contribute to the Gambian economy.
The minister therefore challenged the fishermen and the observers to go out and survey things for themselves and get back to the ministry for actions to be taken.
The chairman of the Association of Gambia Fisheries Organisation (AGFO), Baboucarr Sarr, stated that the fisheries observers are independent specialists who serve onboard commercial fishing vessel or in fish processing plant and other platforms; they are employed either directly by government officials or by a third party contractor.
“We the Gambia fisheries observers have decided to form an association and formulate a code of conduct in pursuit of our collective to preserve and protect the marine resources of our land,” he pointed out.
He explained that The Gambia Fisheries Observers was founded in the 80s, trained to be professional fisheries observers in 1994 and was registered as an association of The Gambia Fisheries Observers in 2005. He added that in late 2016, a new executive was selected and a task force which consists of four observers namely: chairman, secretary general, treasurer and auditor who opted not to go to sea for observer mission but to stay and run the day to day affairs of the association.
The secretary general of AGFO, Baba Dibba, highlighted that the day marks a historic milestone in the development of the association with the objective to protect the marine resources.
He said association of The Gambia Fisheries Observers was formed in 2005 and registered and serving as an apex body for the interest of Gambian youth in the industrial fishing subsector.
According to him, since it was established, the association was unable to achieve the aims and objectives due to the fact that the mandate, right and responsibilities were not reviewed, but noted efforts are there to get the support.
Other speakers included the permanent secretary of Fisheries Ministry, Dr. Bamba Banja and the director of Fisheries, Famara Darboe.