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Sole fishery, oyster and cockle fishery co-management plans launched

Jan 24, 2012, 1:53 PM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Officials from the government agencies, World Wildlife Fund Office, NGOs, International partners among others on 17 January 2012 witnessed the launching of Sole Fishery Co-Management Plan and the Oyster and Cockle Fishery Co-Management plan, at a ceremony held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

The ceremony was characterized with the presentation of speeches and signing of the two documents by the relevant stakeholders.

Speaking on the occasion, Hon. Lamin Kaba Bajo, Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, stated that the launching of the Sole Fishery and Oyster and Cockle co-management plans is indeed a step in the right direction.

According to him, section 12 of the Fisheries Act 2007 mandates Gambia government through the directorate of Fisheries, to prepare and develop fisheries products and aquaculture, which are the first to be prepared under the Fisheries Act 2007 and Fisheries Regulations 2008.

He said the preparation of these plans followed a long process of stakeholder consultations, community meetings, workshops, participatory research activities, study tours, capacity building programmes, linking local ecological knowledge with scientific knowledge for better understanding of the fisheries and the establishment of co-management structures at local and national levels for improved fisheries governance.

Hon. Bajo added that the co-management plans were developed over a period of 2 years and were subjected to several reviews and amendments before validation at meetings with all stakeholders.

The fisheries minister noted that the co-management plans are comprehensive documents that cover all relevant areas and issues in the sole and oyster fisheries including the legal and institutional frameworks for the management of the fisheries sector, the biology, life cycles and population dynamics of the sole, cockle and oyster species, stakeholders involvement and their concerns and expectations, management goals, objectives and measures to ensure sustainable utilization of the fisheries resources for improved social and economic benefits for people involved in the market value chains.

Under the sole fishery programme, the USAID/Ba-Nafaa project is assisting The Gambia to meet the eligibility criteria for an ECO-LABEL from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which will mark an important milestone in the development of the fisheries sector of The Gambia.

The USAID/Ba-Nafaa project support to the Cockle and Oyster Fishery is highly commendable and the award of the eco-label to the sole fishery will be an important and historic achievement for The Gambia because the sole fishery will become the first in sub-Saharan Africa to be certified by the MSC.

For her part, Madam Georgette Yarboi-Quayson of the Regional Office of Environment and Climate Change Response stated that over the past three decades pressures on the artisanal fisheries in West Africa have increased tremendously.

“Our fish stocks are seriously declining, critical habitat is being lost and pollution is of growing concern owing to many factors such as subsidies few restrictions on access to coastal fishing areas, technological developments such as motorised pirogues increased demands from value European and American markets,” she added.

Dr Papa Samba Diouf, Regional Program Coordinator WWF –WAMPO, said the West Africa Marine Program Office (WAMPO) is also coordinating the study on vulnerabilities and adaptation measures to climate change in The Gambia estuary and the Sine Saloum Delta in Senegal.

He noted that the stretch from the Saloum Delta, The Gambia River and the entire coastline of The Gambia as well as the Casamance river system is one contiguous area that has regional biodiversity significance.

The co-management plans will give legal powers to fishers and oyster harvesters to manage the resources on which they depend for their livelihoods.

Ousman Drammeh, the USAID/ Banafaa project manager who also double as the master of ceremony at the occasion, said the programme is a five-year regional initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development, West Africa Regional Mission and is being implemented through a cooperative agreement with the University of Rhode Island as the lead and the WWF-WAMPO as the regional implementing partner.

Project activities are carried out in partnership with the Gambia department of fisheries and stakeholders in the fisheries sectors of The Gambia and Senegal from May 2009 to April 2014 to the tune of $3,414,566.