By Oko Ebuka
The world is naturally endowed with various kinds of resourceful materials to earn a decent living from, ranging from agricultural products, non-agricultural and aquatic resources. Fish is a vital component in aquaculture that provides millions of people proteins and other forms of economic gains. Some countries pride their economic achievements from the proceeds of fishing alone therefore placing them strategically in the economic map of the maritime business.
According to Wahab G. and Olalekan J. (2018), Nigeria is a maritime nation where 9 out of the 36 states have a coastline in the Atlantic Ocean. The coastal federal states of Nigeria are Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross Rivers States, all found in the southern part of the country. The importance of the fisheries sector to individuals and the economy of many developed and developing countries cannot be overemphasized.
The 2018 report of Food and Agriculture Organizations, FAO, of United Nations, UN, showed that total world fisheries and aquaculture production and utilization in 2016 were 170.9m tonnes. It is also notable that fish provides more than 60.0% of the world’s supply of protein, especially in developing countries. Its importance could be felt directly and indirectly among rural and urban residents in Nigeria.
Fish are an important protein source in the diet of Nigerians. Protein from fish is highly digestible and of high nutritional value and consists of complete arrays of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Apart from its high quality, fish is a cheaper source of protein compared to other animal protein sources such as beef, pork, chicken, and goat meats.
Furthermore, according to Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, during the African day of seas and oceans themed, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Marine Biodiversity for Accelerated Economic Growth”, said that fish makes vital contributions to the food and nutritional security of over 200 million Africans. Join us as we look into ways of harnessing the marine biodiversity of African Seas and Oceans. Fish contribute 57%, and the other groups 49% of the total and 48 species of bony fishes in Lagos Lagoon alone. There are over 200 species of fish in Nigerian inland waters, 14 species of reptiles, 7 species of mammals, 59 species of amphibians and 72 species of water-associated birds.
In Nigeria, fisheries, particularly an important subsector, contributes about 3.00–5.00% to the agriculture share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Fishery in Nigerian inland waters have not being properly harnessed the same way other natural resources such as crude oil and gold mining. It is practically disheartening and shameful to say that fishing contributed only 5% in Gross Domestic Product, GDP in 2018.
However, the holistic emphasis laid on crude oil and its components by the federal government of Nigeria has relegated this prolific sub-sector in the agricultural sector. Recently, the Nigerian National Assembly passed the bill that will establish the institution of fishery in Nigeria to keep the hopes of proper research in the maritime industry which in a way can boost the morale of the dying sector.
Why is it wasting?
A renowned maritime security expert, Captain Alfred Oluwasegun said that the major reason behind the negligence of the fish business is heavily linked to the security issues in Nigeria’s inland waters which supposed to be protected by seafarers. According to him, “you cannot even fish in these waters because it is not secured.
Its effect on unemployment…
The Captain further linked the adverse effect of poor fishing in Nigeria to the massive unemployed youths roaming about the streets which the fishing industry, if properly managed will create both direct and indirect jobs for the teeming youths across the nations.
He said, “I don’t know why government is not looking in that direction and they think everything is oil. But the reality is if you really want to achieve the blue economy then this water needs to be secured. Nigerian economy will grow even without any stress because we cannot tackle insecurity without tackling unemployment.
“Imagine we have over 500 fishing trawler in the water and the smallest of the fishing water will employ not less than 11 cadets as personnel imagine the number of youths that will be gainfully employed.
“We now import fish in the country now even when our waters doesn’t have fish season, any moment you launch your net you catch fish and we are not fishing in this water because of insecurity. Imagine we have 500 trawlers in each of the zones; it will give many youth indirect jobs”, he concluded.