Development of a robust National Fishery Policy has been advocated for Nigeria, to ensure that domestic Fish production in the country exceeds the present low level and to promote Industries in general and small scale Artisan fisheries.
A Professor of Fisheries, Abia State University, Professor Afam Anene, who stated this while delivering the 21st Inaugural Lecture of the University, on the topic: *”Fish and Fisheries in Nigeria: Matters Arising”*, further solicited for the establishment of a Fisheries Advisory Board, by the Federal Government, within the existing Rural Basin Development Authorities, which will include all stakeholders in the Fishing Industry. According to him, existing Laws have been found lacking in fundamental scientific data on which sustainable explanation of Fishery resources depend.
He defined Fish “as an aquatic, cold-blooded, gill breathing vertebrate that is equipped with paired fins”, disclosing that in Nigeria, Fish constitutes 40% of Annual protein intake, while globally, Fish accounts for about 16% of Annual protein consumed.
According to him, “in addition to its role in promoting dietary sufficiency, the Fisheries sub-sector also provides employment, particularly, in coastal and rural areas, reinforces food security, increases geographical and economic integration of rural communities, mitigates the Rural-Urban drift, creates demand for goods and services that stimulate investments, promotes social welfare, regional economic growth and integration. In all, Fish production contributes to employment opportunities, creates wealth and health for millions of Nigerians”.
Additionally, Fish generates large number of services related to their movement patterns in lakes, rivers and oceans, specific species of Fish are also excellent indicators of biological and ecological integrity due to their exposure to water conditions, Biomedical products from fish are also needed for specific Industries.
The Lecturer disclosed that aquatic systems are bedeviled by a number of ecological problems which minimise their ability to sustain Fish and ecosystem services namely:
🔸 Infestation by aquatic plants
🔸 Urbanization, as many urban settings are largely near water sheds
🔸 Soil erosion, sediment loading/siltation
🔸 Dump sites/Leachates
🔸 Over Fishing, Unconventional Fishing methods and so on.
The Lecturer recommends as follows:
🔸 That Government at all levels should develop a policy on waste minimisation, reduction and recycling to reduce land filling.
🔸 That rapid afforestation of shore-lines should be encouraged to reduce the impact of surface run-offs.
🔸 That Government should consider the use of Dams, rather than Channels
🔸 That Scientists in Nigeria should increase their understanding and knowledge of the impact of climate change on the Fisheries and Acqaculture Industries.
🔸 That appropriate Legislature should be made for improved Fishery Management to control indiscriminate and unconventional Fishing methods, by allowing depleted stocks to recover, while utilising other stocks wisely.
*”Give a man a Fish, you feed him for a day,*
*Teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”*
E.U.I- Good Leader, Great Achievements.