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Gambia-Senegal Sustainable Fisheries Project Launched

Aug 20, 2009, 7:34 AM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The United States Embassy, in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and the government of The Gambia on Tuesday August 18th 2009, formally launched the Gambia-Senegal Sustainable Fisheries Project, being supported by the USAID.

The Gambia-Senegal Sustainable Fisheries Project codenamed 'Pa Nafaa' (a Mandinka word for marine benefit) is a five-year project that aims to contribute to the profitability and sustainability of fisheries in The Gambia.

The project was initiated to mitigate the effects of these challenges through integrated approach, while ensuring profitable and sustainable fisheries in The Gambia. Its goal, among others, is to support the government of the Gambia in achieving its fisheries development objectives of poverty reduction, food security, as well as employment and income-generation.

Speaking at the launching of the project, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, Antouman Saho, the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, said the project is yet another major step in their efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries management and development for increased national socio-economic benefits, particularly for stakeholders in the fisheries sector.

According to him, the fisheries sector has the potential to make significant contribution to economic and social development of the Gambia in terms of food security and improved nutritional standards, employment generation and poverty reduction, revenue and foreign exchange earnings.

"The sector presently contributes 4% of GDP and provides direct and indirect employment to an estimated 200, 000 people", he said. This level of contribution to national socio-economic development, he went on, can be increased significantly if the sector is managed and developed in a sustainable manner.

Minister Saho added that "government is fully committed to ensuring that the greater part of the benefits from the exploitation of the fisheries resources accrues to the Gambia and the Gambian people."

For his part, Dr Brian Crawford, the Director of International Programs at the Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, said an important aspect of the sustainable management is the fact that many of these resources are shared fish stocks that are also harvested by fishermen of the neighboring countries.

He noted that most of the scientific evidence and local knowledge of resource users suggest that the maximum production potential has already been reached for most of the fisheries resources in the region and in some cases even surpassed.

According to him, the project will focus on artisanal fisheries sector, which employs most people and harvest the largest quantities of fish.

"Key fish stocks that the project will concentrate on are sole, shrimp and sardinella that are contained in the government of the Gambia's draft fisheries management plan, as well as the estuarine oyster and cockle fisheries," he stated.