Jun 25, 2009, 5:57 AM
A working session on the finalisation of the draft fisheries product regulations 2007 was on Tuesday convened at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.
The Honourable Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Lamin Kaba Bajo told the participants that he was sure that they have taken note that "this was the final session in a process of engagement of all the actors who have a stake in a better regulated fisheries sector."
In this regard, Bajo said the genesis of the process leading to the development of these draft regulations review and finalisation, and the work of the development of fisheries, the government's regulatory arm in the sector have been guided by the Fisheries Act and Fisheries Regulation.
He recalled that a number of years ago, the needs were identified for detailed specific regulations, covering fish products, fish farming among others in the country.
According to him, with the assistance of the EU SFP Programme implemented in 2006, draft regulations were prepared for fisheries and aquaculture products.
Noting that much work has gone into the drafts since then, he said there have been sector wide consultations for the finalisation of the draft fisheries product regulations.
The Minister further stated that the fisheries product regulations have been prepared in accordance with international standards, and are considered to be in line with the EU regulations.
Bajo further stated that the implementation of these regulations when they are approved would go a long way towards helping the country efforts in putting high quality and safe fisheries products in the home and export markets.
Honourable Bajo also said that the Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters and the Department of Fisheries, the competent authority, have not been in this work alone, as there are other actors who have been working with them to assure a better regulated fisheries products framework.
According to him, principal among these stakeholders is the National Codex/Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Committee (NCSPSC). Given its competence as a multi-sectorial body dealing with cross-cutting issues and responsible for developing standards and regulations for food safety, animal and plant health, he said, the NCSPSC is spearheading the work through the mobilisation and engagement of stakeholders, to finalise the draft regulation development under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries.
He conveyed their appreciation to the NCSPSC and West Africa Quality Programme for supporting the finalisation of the Fisheries Product Regulations.
He finally assured his Ministry’s full support to their noble efforts in finalising this draft fisheries product regulation.
The FAO Representative to the Gambia, Babagana Ahmadu said this regulation came at an opportune time when the country is faced with a lot of challenges in the export of fish and fisheries products to the international market, especially the EU.
Mr. Ahmadu also said that the FAO has been working with the National Codex/Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee (NCSPSC) over the past years to improve the national food control system. Noting that this is quite important as an effective national food control, including animal and plant health system, he said, it is essential for the protection of the health and safety of consumers.
According to him, this requires effective inspection and certification systems to achieve protection of consumer health and safety, as well as ensuring fair practice in the trading of food and agricultural products.
He stated that The Gambia being dependent on the export of animal and plant products, including fisheries products to provide both foreign exchange revenues and employment in agriculture and natural resource sectors, requires a regulation that is in harmony with the international standards.
He concluded by saying that with the set of expertise present in this taskforce, the draft fisheries product regulations have been prepared in accordance with international standards and recommendations that can be applied at any level.