I llegal and juvenile fishing is one of the
serious challenges facing African countries especially The Gambia. This awful
practice is having a significant negative impact in terms of economy loses,
owing to poor and uncontrolled juvenile fishing in our waters. Apart from the
loss to the economy, scientific research revealed that the practice also badly
affects the biological factors of the fish ecosystem.
On numerous occasions foreign trawlers are intercepted by our security agents for their dubious activities against the rules and regulations governing good fishing practice.
A country like The Gambia where a number of coastal dwellers are engaged in the fisheries sector, it is a serious matter to learn that illegitimate business operations are being carried out on the high seas by large foreign fishing vessels.
However, many are of the view that the rise in demand of juvenile fish species to feed larger fishmeal factories in the country is the major cause of juvenile fishing in our waters. The recent discovery of dead juvenile fish at Tanji Fish Landing Site, the country’s biggest fish landing sites, calls for more collaborative efforts to tackle the practice.
According to Illegal, Unreported Unregulated (IUU) Fishing reports, the global losses due to IUU fishing alone are estimated to be as high as US$23.5billion per year - with West African waters deemed to have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37 percent of the region’s catch.
IUU fishing is found in all types and dimensions of fisheries, it occurs both on the high seas and in areas within national jurisdiction. It concerns all aspects and stages of the capture and utilisation of fish, and it may sometimes be associated with organised crime.
This clearly signals a clear message that the illegal fishing activities are putting the poor fisherman in a disadvantaged position and costing the economy dearly; hence, steps must be taken by government to stop this practice so that the fishing industry can stand on its feet.
It also undermines national and regional efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks and, as a consequence, inhibits progress towards achieving the goals of long-term sustainability and responsibility.
Strict action plan against illegal fishing is necessary, but the government must make sure there are sufficient resources to carry out a strong campaign against poaching. As events in recent years have shown, this requires a multifaceted approach to stem the surge of illegal and juvenile fishing in our waters.
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