May 15, 2015, 10:20 AM
The training held in Bijilo was organised to build capacities of participants on the use of Earth Observation Information to support fisheries management and safety at sea in West Africa.
MESA was officially launched at a hotel in Kololi in December 2014 after the regional launching at the University of Legon in Accra, Ghana in August 2014.
The project is meant to increase access to reliable and periodic EO coastal marine monitoring data and services, monitoring parameters to support fisheries management, monitoring parameters indicative of ocean states, and improving cooperation between African countries with European countries.
Matarr Bah, director of the Department of Fisheries, said MESA is a pan-African programme that builds on results of previous projects such as the Preparation meant for Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa project (2001-2005), and the African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (2007-2013).
He said these are to increase the information management, decision-making and planning capacity of African, regional and national institutions mandated for environment, climate change, food security and related responsibilities.These are to be increased by enhancing access to and exploitation of relevant EO applications in Africa.
The director of Fisheries explained that the sector is presently threatened due to the impact of climate change, poor management practices and ever increasing challenges from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing by both artisanal and industrial fisheries sectors.
This contributes greatly to over-exploitation of fisheries and other marine resources, he said.
“The consequences of IUU fishing are the scarcity of fisheries resources, lack of fish products in the markets and above all food insecurity,” Mr Bah said.
“These are the important economic losses and irreversible threats of destruction of resources caused by IUU fishing, and as a result, the need for justifying and reinforcing national fisheries surveillance units, including active and collaboration of The Gambia Navy.”
Therefore, he noted, MESA project will focus on assisting participating countries to develop capacity and use EO data to manage fisheries resources and ensure safety at sea including the eradication of IUU fishing.
He urged the participants to take the training seriously for the effective implementation of the project.