Ex-NITOA president laments trawler industry’s declining fortunes

Former President, Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), Margaret Orakwusi has lamented the dwindling fortunes of the fish trawling sector even as she called on the federal government to save the sector from collapse.

Orakwusi, who bared her mind in Lagos last week, expressed disappointment that the sector, which ranked second among non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country, was now nowhere on the scale, a development she attributed to leadership negligence.

She noted that despite the approval by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007 to designate the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Phase 2 as a consolidated fishing terminal, nothing had been done to develop the terminal.

Orakwusi added that activities of pirates operating on the nation’s territorial waters had also contributed to the woes of the sector.

She said, “A couple of years ago, we had about 38 companies involved in deep sea fishing. Right now, we are less than nine. Nigeria had over 200 trawlers that was our fleet, right now; we don’t have up to a 100.

“We used to rank number two in the non-oil export foreign exchange earners for the country. I don’t even bother to ask for the statistics now. It is a business that has been left to die,”

According to her, the sector has lost billions of naira in investment, vessels and seamen, adding that investors were closing shops in Nigeria following a lack of conducive operating business environment.

“Nigeria’s loss is gain for other African countries because what investors did was just simply to relocate their investments and operations to other countries,” she said.


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