FISON Identifies Impediment To Fish Production In A’Ibom
The Fisheries Society Of Nigeria (FISON), Akwa Ibom Chapter has identified factors militating against the production of large quantity of fish in the state.
The general secretary of the professional association, Dr Atim Okoko, who made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with our Agric Desk editor in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, specifically identified the inability of the state government to come out with a law to regulate fishing activities as the major problem.
Okoko said with the fishing laws on ground it would be possible to determine the types of nets to be used in fishing expeditions by fishermen in the territorial waters of the state.
She condemned in strong terms the use of tinny nets for fishing expeditions, saying that such nets destroy fish in the sea and would not encourage younger fish to grow to adults.
Okoko said the immediate enactment of fishing laws in the state would enable the Directorate of Fisheries to arrest and prosecute offenders caught using tinny nets for fishing in the state.
She said such laws would also help officials of government to regulate the operations of trawlers from leaving the high sea to the shores to catch fish, noting that if the law was in place the menace created by this group of fishermen could have been checked.
She said trawlers by law are expected to operate five nautical miles from the shores of oceans for artisanal fishermen to operate, regretting that in an attempt for trawlers to catch shrimps they come to operate in the shores.
Okoko also attributed high cost of fishing inputs such as outboard engines as another factor that put many fishermen out of production in the state, appealing to the state government for assistance in this regard to real fishermen saying it has been long such gesture was extended to them.
The activities of pirates, she said, also worked against the operations of fishermen in the territorial waters, explaining that a situation where pirates molested fishermen at gun point and dispossess them of their valuables in the high sea was disheartening.
She called for regular patrol of territorial waters in the state by the naval policemen to checkmate the activities of pirates in the high seas.
Okoko identified lack of interest by youths in fishing as one of the problems affecting the production of fish in the state.
Her words: “Presently, the fishing industry is largely occupied by elderly men. The youth prefer white collar jobs to fishing, leaving the industry to suffer.”
The FISON secretary argued that if fishing laws are in operation in the state, our brothers and sisters from our neighbouring states would be restricted to buying their fish and crayfish from designated fish markets in the state.
She listed the designated fish markets in the state to include: Oron, Atabong, Ishiet Uruan, Itu bridge head and Uta Ewa in Ikot Abasi where traders should be made to go and buy the quantity of fish they want to prevent them from going into the fish settlements to exploit our fishermen.
Said she: “There should be a law to restrict foreigners from gaining entry into fish settlements to buy fish thereby exposing our fishermen to undue exploitation in the name of buying outboard engines for them to catch fish.”
She explained that if fishing law was in place in the state government’ officials would be empowered to collect revenue from transporters conveying large quantity of fish from the state.
Okoko said Fisheries Directorate could have been a major income earner to the Akwa Ibom government but for lack of attention to the sector, stressing that Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays should be designated as fish market days weekly by government to allow for proper regulations of fishing activities in the interest of the government and fishermen in the state.
She pledged the resolve of her members to cooperate with the state government for the purpose of achieving greatness in the fishing industry for the collective interest of all in the state.