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Sub-Regional meeting discusses fish vessel monitoring system

Mar 8, 2011, 2:28 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Hon. Lamin Kaba Bajo, on Monday opened a validation and adoption forum of the action plan for the national and sub-regional cooperation on Vessel Monitoring System (VMS).

Hosted by the fisheries ministry, the three-day meeting, which attracted sub-regional participants, was held at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.

 In his official opening remarks, Hon. Lamin Kaba Bajo said The Gambia is fully supportive of the idea to establish a vessel monitoring system in the sub-region, which awaits the successful outcome of this evaluation and adoption workshop.

He says national governments are investing a lot of money on fisheries development projects and programmes "but it should be clear to all countries that the success and sustainability of all these development projects and programmes are critically dependent on the continued availability of fisheries resource".

"The establishment of the Vessel Monitoring System is therefore an important step forward in our collective efforts at ensuring an effective system for monitoring, control and surveillance," Hon. Bajo said.

The VMS will serve as a source of useful information on the movement of fishing vessels within the waters of member states. 

"The VMS will be an important tool to control and monitor the activities of fishing vessels and it is expected that this will help to reduce illegal fishing in our waters," the fisheries minister said.

For his part, Dr Babagana Ahmadu, FAO representative to The Gambia, described the forum as very important as critical issues on fisheries management, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing will be discussed during the forum.

"This forum came at a time of great concern in the sub-region for the sustainable exploitation of the fisheries resource and protection of the marine environment," he said, adding that there has been a lot of pressure from within the sub-region for access to fish and fisheries resource for food security and revenue.

"The livelihood of fisheries communities are of concern to all the stakeholders including the FAO because sub-regional pressures are now being exacerbated by increasing bilateral and objective fisheries agreements."

In his welcoming remarks, the director of fisheries, Nfamara Dampha, says The Gambia believes the ultimate goal for Africa "is the attainment of closer and mutually beneficial cooperation among all African countries".

However, he continued, it has been realised in The Gambia that the best approach to the attainment of the ultimate goal is through the creation and strengthening of sub-regional and regional groupings with member countries fully convinced of the need for such groupings aiming to promote the socio economic development of their countries.

The establishment and strengthening of such groupings, in particular the sub-regional fisheries commission whose support should be greatly amplified, is paramount, especially now that The Gambia has assumed the presidency of the sub-regional fisheries commission.

Mr Dampha says The Gambia is extremely proud of the achievements of the sub-regional fisheries commission and is fully appreciative of its council of ministers, the co-ordinating committee and the permanent secretariat.