The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has stated that Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing leads to an annual loss of over 1.3 billion dollars in West Africa alone.
This is just as he pledged the commitment of the National Assembly towards passing legislations that will make Nigeria’s seas and waterways safer for exploration and exploitation of its natural resources for the benefit of Nigerians.
Dogara who said this in a goodwill message at the annual conference of the Association of African Maritime Administrators in Abuja, stated that, “Statistics has it that Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing leads to a loss of over 1.3 billion dollars in West Africa alone, yearly.
“We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. We must intensify efforts to promote intra- African trade in fisheries as statistics also show that Pan-African fish trade is worth about 20 billion euros. This will help to sustain African economies in the long term.”
He added, “We as a parliament have been at the forefront of legislation on maritime issues in the past and are currently, actively involved in processing legislations in the maritime sector. The House of Representatives of Nigeria only last week passed the National Transport Commission Bill which it is hoped would have a huge impact on the maritime sector especially with respect to economic regulation of activities of operators and agencies in our maritime sector.”
The Speaker also gave the commitment of the National Assembly to give speedy legislative action to the proposed Bill for an Act to provide for the Suppression of Piracy and other unlawful Acts at Sea (and other related offences) and urged the executive to transmit it, and other IMO conventions to the National Assembly.
According to him, “the bill when passed, is expected to “give expression to relevant Conventions, Treaties and Charters on safety and security and further strengthen Nigeria’s desire to make its waters safe.
“The bill is in the court of the Executive at the the moment and we await its transmission as an Executive Bill for legislative processing into law. The Executive should also use the opportunity to transmit other IMO Conventions and Protocols that have been acceded to by Nigeria, for domestication by the National Assembly,”.
He further charged African maritime organisations to change the present situation where Africans do not benefit from the abundance of natural resources in its seas and waterways adding that “this is attainable only if the era of paying lip service to producing indigenous skilled sea men and women and indigenous fleet owners is replaced with one in which conscious and practical actions are taken towards achieving the goal”.
Speaking on some of the potentials, Dogara who noted that fishing is one of the major economic activities of most maritime communities all over Africa, posited that sustainable development of the local fisheries sector has the capacity to improve food security and lift people out of poverty and hunger.
He pledged the parliament’s readiness to participate in the discussion of maritime security, safety, administration and development in line with the impact of Climate Change and the possibility of developing a blue economy following the Paris Convention on Climate Change.
“Fisheries and aquaculture provide jobs for millions of people including our women and youths,” he said, adding, “as a maritime nation, Nigeria has a responsibility together with other nations and international organisations, like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to make our waters safe and secure.”