By Godwin Oritse
A MEMBER of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, has said that there is an international conspiracy against the Nigerian fishing sector, stressing that the western countries have made it difficult for Nigerian marine products to access their markets.
Speaking at the fourth Lagos International Maritime Week, Orakwusi said that the fishing sub-sector which generates over $270billion annually can generate more income if the marine resources are sustainably exploited.
Orakwusi whose paper entitled “African Blue Economy, innovation, sustainability and diversity” also said that Africa is at least underusing, possibly even drastically wasting its blue economy potential.
She disclosed that the African maritime industry is already worth $1trillion annually adding that with the right economic policies implemented, it could triple in two years.
According to her, the questions and queries a Nigerian fish exporter will have to answer before his or her products can be allowed into the European market are unimaginable.
She noted that a point, Nigerian seafood and other aquatic products were banned and it took months of heavy lobbying before the ban was lifted.
According to her, the diversification of Africa’s economies towards exploitation of the ocean resources will boost Africa’s economies and create opportunities of growth of critical sectors such as fisheries, tourism, maritime transport, offshore mining, in a way that the land economy has failed to do.
She said: “The regulated exploitation of fisheries and aquatic resources from the seas, will curb wastes and address the issue of food security for vulnerable groups and communities, it is also expected to curb malnutrition by promoting sustainable food production and gender equality for employment in blue economy industries. Africa needs to fast-track the resolution of disputes and strength their maritime cooperation mechanism.
“The Africa Union has launched its 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy in a bid to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Africa’s maritime resources. There is a need for the creation of a Command Exclusive Maritime Zone of Africa the environment and fisheries, share information and boost border protection and defence activities.”
“There is a thin line separating the Blue economy and maritime security, effective maritime regulatory framework will ensure orderly fishing conduct at sea, serves as the most effective instrument to accommodate and resolve conflict.