The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, yesterday said the country spends an estimated N125 billion on I.9 million tonnes of fish imports annually.
Adesina said this in Abuja at a fisheries stakeholders interactive forum titled “Repositioning the Fishery subsector.’’
He put the total demand for fish in the country at 2.7 million tonnes of which 800,000 tonnes were currently produced locally.
The deficit of 1.9 million tonnes, according to him, is being met by imports.
“Our goal is to be self-sufficient in fish production; we will achieve this by promoting greater investments in aquaculture, improving artisanal, inland and marine fisheries. Our four-year target is to increase the production of fish fingerlings by 1.25 billion per year; the production of fish feed by 400,000 metric tonnes per year and increase table size fish production by an additional 250,000 tonnes a year.
“In addition, we will produce 100,000 tonnes of value added fish and fisheries products, annually. We expect that within four years, we will add an additional on million tonnes of fish to our domestic production and reach 67 per cent self-sufficiency,’’ Adesina said.
He said the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme now included subsidies for producers of fish.
The minister said in 2013, a total of 3.6 million juveniles, 36,000 bags of 15 kg of feed and 200 water testing kits were provided to fishermen in 10 states, at a total cost of N1.5 billion.
He added that the scheme reached additional 18,500 fishermen in 14 states, during the flood recovery programme, with the provision of juveniles, fish feed, fish meal, nets, floats, sinkers and ropes.
Adesina said the Nigerian marine waters were plagued with attacks by armed robbers on the shrimp trawling vessels, killings, maiming and abduction of crew members and the removal of communication equipment and catches.
He said the attacks had become an embarrassment to security agencies, saying that if unchecked, it may lead to the complete collapse of the fishing industry.
According to him, a total of 271 reported cases of attacks on vessels operating in the Nigerian territorial waters occurred between February 2009 and September, 2013.
Adesina said it led to a drastic reduction in the number of fishing fleet from about 230 vessels to only 119 vessels, with only 10 companies in operation in recent years.
“We are determined to curb the incidences of piracy and armed robbery through the provision of the necessary platforms. We have ordered for six passenger and patrol boats to improve surveillance.
“We are also pursuing greater inter-agency collaboration with security agencies especially the Navy, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and Inspection Agencies,’’ Adesina said.
He said the ministry had proposed a joint action plan with the Navy to oversee all issues of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Nigeria’s territorial Waters.
He announced that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would immediately repossess and secure the existing fishing terminals at Igbokoda – Ondo State, Ebughu – Akwa Ibom State and Borokiri in Rivers State.
Adesina said there would be no more fishy businesses in the fisheries sub-sector.
He directed that, henceforth, all illegally imported fish would be confiscated and destroyed and contravening companies would lose their licences and their cold rooms sealed off.
The minister said government would protect consumers and would not allow injurious fish into the market.
He called on the stakeholders and members of staff of the ministry to give their maximum support to the government initiative to reposition the sub-sector.
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