National Sole fishery Co-management Committee (NASCOM) with the support of the Fisheries Department and other relevant partners on Thursday 11th October, 2012 concluded a two day annual review of NASCOM activities and implementation of the sole fishery co-management plan.
In his closing remarks, Eliman Sarr, president of NASCOM said the meeting is aimed at drawing on the various perspectives and expertise that their stakeholders, development partners and colleagues will bring to bear on the review of NASCOM activities relating to its past and present ones.
He commended USAID/BANAFAA and the fisheries department for the unflinching support since the formation of NASCOM.
For her part, Fatou Jallow, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources stated that the fisheries sector is very important to the development of the economy, health and key in development efforts.
“The sector account for 5% of the country’s GDP and provides direct and indirect benefits to thousands of people; fisheries products also provide improved nutritional needs of the population, thereby increasing food security and improving health in the country,” she added.
The fisheries sector, she revealed, faces a number of important challenges including inadequate investments, limited application of co-management principles, human resources limitations and depletion of stocks as a result of non-selective fishing practices and IUU fishing.
According to her, all these issues are threatening the long-term sustainability of the fisheries resources for enhanced economic and social benefits to the fisher folk communities.
“The Gambia as a developing country does not have sufficient resources to address the many challenges it has in the health, agriculture, education and other sectors including fisheries. Based on this reason, it is important to ensure that policies, strategies and programs to help develop the fisheries sector and increase its contribution to national economy are implemented,” she stated.
Also speaking at the forum, Mr. Dawda Saine, Secretary General of NASCOM gave an account of the rundown of activities of the organization for the past 12 months, noting that the membership of NASCOM is all inclusive and includes the sole fishers, fish processors, fish dealers, industrial fishery etc amongst others.
“The all inclusive membership augurs well for the future as government in partnership with USAID/BA-NAAFA project embark upon work to develop a multi fishery co-management plan, which will make it possible to transform NASCOM into a national organization of artisanal fisher folk working to serve the interest of all fishers and their communities”, he added.
“The Gambia government, represented by the Fisheries Department working closely with USAID/BA-NAAFA project has empowered to be able to manage the fisheries resources on which we depend for our livelihood security,” Saine stated.
For his part, Nfamara Dampha, Director of Fisheries said the forum was important as it is meant to pave strategies to conserve the fisheries resources.
He noted that the conservation and management measures contained in the sole fishery co-management plan when accorded due consideration will enhance the regeneration of fish stocks by promoting responsible fishing practices, enforcing the use of legal fishing gears and fishing methods, and combat illegal fishing in the artisanal fisheries sector.
“The successful implementation of the co-management plan will guarantee the sustainability of artisanal fisheries and thereby increase the production capacities of fishers and as well income generation and more socio-economic benefits,” he added.
Dr. Karen Kent, representative of University of Rhode Island expressed gratitude on the level of cooperation among all the NASCOM players working together in a common goal.
According to her, regular meeting of all sole fishery stakeholders at community, landing sites and national level is paramount as relevant information are shared among the members.
The forum witnessed series of group works to brainstorm on the thematic issues in ensuring that all the necessary information regarding the protection and conservation of fisheries and marine resources are guaranteed.
A presentation on the collection of local knowledge on cat fishery in the Gambia, according to the two presenters, Ms Lina Kelpsaite and Gibril Jabis revealed that the cat fishery in the Gambian waters is of high importance for the local and regional food supply chain. The program was chaired by Mr. Ousman O. Drammeh USAID/BANAFAA projector coordinator and Mr. Ousman Mass Jobe of fisheries department