From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The total consumption of fish in Nigeria is about 3.2 million metric tons with 1.2 metric tons of local production while about 2.0 metric tons are in deficit.
Speaking at a workshop organised by the Resource and Environmental Policy Research Centre of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on ways to improve the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Nigeria, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Charles Igwe, said that the fisheries sector has a strategic position in Nigeria, mainly because of increasing fish production and consumption and its contribution to employment and poverty reduction.
“About 40 per cent of Nigeria’s protein intake is from fish so putting fish consumption at 13.3 kilogram/person/per year.
“Although below the world average of 20.5 kilogram/person/year in 2017 the total consumption of fish in Nigeria is about 3.2 million metric tons, with 1.2 metric tons local production, leaving a deficit that is augmented through import. Improving output requires dealing with issues in the sector, including reported cases of decline in fish stocks, due to over-harvesting and overfishing (exacerbated by increased investment in fishing) and cases of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing” he said.
Igwe said that although Nigeria is the largest acquaculture producer in sub-saharan Africa, the sector is still facing a lot of barriers and output per hectare as it is very low.
“The sector has remained underdeveloped and performance is poor, notwithstanding the output growth over the years.
“Currently, the sector’s average output of 1.5 tons/hectare/year is well below its potential of 25 tons/hectare/year. Although there is an aquaculture policy, many current issues are not covered and cannot be a framework to improve the sector effectively” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar assured that his ministry would partner with stakeholders for the development of fisheries and aquaculture for economic growth, wealth and job creation as well as food and nutrition security.
“The vision of the president is to grow Nigeria’s aquaculture sector to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerated achievements in food and nutrition security” he said.
The minister who was represented by a deputy director, fisheries, Mr Okanlanwo Adeniyi, said that the government was committed towards improving the fisheries and aquaculture subsector to increase domestic production of fish to reduce importation of frozen fish into the country and growth in gross domestic products (GDP) in the agriculture sector.