Lagos — The Nigerian fishery community alongside other African countries whose maritime domain have been invaded by European and Chinese fishing trawlers, have concluded plans to petition the United Nations over the incessant invasion of waters and endangering of its aquatic lives by those invasions.
Speaking to Sweetcrudereports, Mrs Margareth Orakwusi, of the Maritime Trade Group of the The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, NACCIMA, said that Africa is losing billions of Dollars to the illegal fishing by European and Chinese vessels.
Orakwusi also said that it is a war Africa will take to the United Nation adding that the issue of the invasion of the continent’s waters was not a Nigerian problem alone, adding that one nation alone cannot address the problem.
She explained that Africans need to build capacity to face these foreigners who are believed to have the backing of their home countries.
She stated, ‘‘It is our resources that are being stolen by these Europeans and Chinese and it is sad because they come into our waters without any form of registration and they fish in the most irresponsible manner; so they are stealing our resources, our today’s resources and our future resources because when they fish in any irregular manner, they cart away the big fish that lay eggs as they also cart away juvenile.
‘‘All these activities are not allowed anywhere in the world. So, we have been trying to promote fishing in a responsible manner and also calling on the relevant agencies to man our waters effectively to stop this stealing of our resources.
‘‘African coastal nations in general are losing billions of Dollars annually and it also bothers on the issue of security. I think it is a war we all Africans must join to fight and take all the way to the United Nations because it is unacceptable.
‘‘The issue of irregular, unreported and unregulated fishing activities is not a Nigerian problem, it is a continental problem, one country does not have the capacity to address it because there is absolutely no way we can monitor effectively, our maritime domain; it is impossible, except we have the buying-in of everybody, that includes the Europeans that are stealing the resources, the Chinese and those providing the markets for these stolen products because fishing is highly regulated, from the vessels to the markets.
“So, the question is who buys the stolen products, how do they find the markets for these stolen products.
“Fishing is highly regulated by the Nigerian government, the European Union and any country you wish to export your products to, and every product is accounted for, from the fishing ground to the market.
“So, my question is, who buys the stolen products, that is number one; then there are some species of products you are not allowed to catch, where are they selling these ones, they catch in our waters.
“So, you see why it should be a holistic approach from everybody, especially the people that provide the markets for African stolen products.
“Maritime security is very expensive; we are also talking about sea piracy and robbery activities; so it is quite challenging, and these criminals come with their very big vessels and swept from bottom to top.
‘‘It is a problem that should be taken up to the United Nations; let the African governments rise up and lead the discourse on this issue.
‘‘In some African countries, these criminal use dynamite to blow up the fishes; so, Africa as a whole is losing billions of Dollars; it is our resources, we cannot have these people who would not document what they catch, do whatever they like because they have the right and the facility and capacity to do that and there is ready made illegal markets.’’
Speaking on the development, a fishery Consultant, Mrs Abiodun Cheke, said that the non-ratification of the Illegal Unreported and Unregulated, IUU, Port State Measures is the reason for the invasion of African waters to cart away the aquatic lives.
Cheke also said that if the IUU Port State Measures were ratified, even the Europeans will not allow such undocumented catch into their markets.
She also supported the moves to petition the United Nations with a view of checking the activities if the criminal invasion of the continental waters.
She said that the IUU Task Force domiciled in Ghana is contributing to the fight against illegal fishing on the African Continent.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Committee for West Africa and Gulf of Guinea, FCWC, has stated that due to various political, economic and environmental factors, West Africa, and in particular, the Gulf of Guinea, has been identified as the most significant hotspot for illegal fishing globally. Global overcapacity in the fishing fleet and decline of fish stocks encourage fishing vessels to relocate in distant waters where fish are more abundant and management measures are non-existent or less enforced.
At the same time, the ever-growing global demand for seafood products encourages operators to reduce their exploitation costs by all means, sometimes by conducting illegal fishing operations or by violating fisheries and other laws in the countries where they operate.
According to FCWC, ‘‘Fighting IUU fishing in the FCWC waters seems ambitious but through the support from its partners, the projects and initiatives implemented these few last years as well as mechanisms developed, a real decrease of illegal activities was noticed.
‘‘IUU fishing continues to undermine the development of sustainable marine fisheries in West Africa. The resulting environmental damage, high economic losses, and increasing levels of maritime insecurity make acting against IUU fishing a regional priority.
‘‘Countries have been encouraged to share information on licensed vessels as part of the WATF regular information sharing process. Since 2016, national license lists have been regularly compiled into a regional Combined License List.’’
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