By Jimoh Babatunde
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the potential of Nigeria’s fisheries put at over three million metric tons per annum is capable of meeting local need fish demand and generate surplus for export if properly harnessed.
The Agriculture Minister explained that the country does not just want to be the largest economy in Africa, but the largest producer of food in the continent, “one of the things I am asked to do is to turn around Nigeria’s fisheries sector.”
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina made this know in Gdansk, Poland Wednesday at the commissioning of the 10.1 million Euros‘s deep sea vessel constructed by Remomtowa Holdings for the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research.
He said the country has no business importing fish, “fish does not grow in sand but in water, and Nigeria has abundance of water. We are blessed with numerous lakes, rivers, reservoirs, dams and flood plains, spanning about 13 million hectares which can support artisanal fisheries and aquaculture.”
Adesina disclosed that Nigerian shrimp is considered one of the best in the world and presently generates foreign exchange worth $65 million annually, “Nigeria’s offshore marine resources include tuna species with a potential of 10,000MT annually, but we will not eat potential”
The Minister noted that they have started work on unlocking Nigeria’s fisheries potential with the launching of a nationwide provision of subsidized fisheries inputs last year.
“Fish farmers were registered under the electronic wallet scheme and provided with juveniles and subsidized fish feed. Artisanal fishermen were provided with nets, ropes, sinkers, floats and insulated boxes free of charge and canoes at 50% subsidy.”
Adesina added that to boost marine industrial sector that the federal Government has begun a coordinated inter-agency effort to curb incidences of piracy and armed robbery at sea, “Nigeria will not tolerate illegal fishing in its territorial waters and will work with international agencies to enforce compliance.”
He noted that based on the need to properly monitor and manage the diversity of the country’s resources, President Jonathan approved the purchase of the 10.1million Euros deep sea vessel.
“This deep sea vessel will substantially enhance Nigeria’s capability to understand and optimize its abundant marine resources. It will also enhance training and human capital development for the fisheries sector.”
Dame (Mrs.) Patience Jonathan, who commended the Minister of agriculture for the successful acquisition of the vessel later christened it ‘RV BAYAGBONA’ after the first Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research.