The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Agricultural Production and Services and Water Resources to collaborate with relevant agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria became self-sufficient in fish production in the next two years.
This followed the House’s unanimous adoption of a motion by Hon. Olawale Raji (Lagos-APC) at plenary on Wednesday.
The house tasked the committees to ensure that enabling environment existed for increased private sector investments and development of a policy framework for implementation of a phased ban on importation of fish and fish products.
The green chamber also mandated its Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, and the Committee on Navy to ensure effective monitoring and protection of Nigeria’s fishing waters from non-indigenous ship operators.
Moving the motion, Raji said diversification of the economy from crude oil to other key sectors like agriculture remained pivotal to the realisation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the present administration.
He said that the fisheries sub-sector remained a vital component of the nation’s economy, accounting for about four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Raji said that the sub-sector was largely under-developed in spite of the potential to provide cheap sources of protein, income, employment and foreign exchange.
He said that local production arising from artisanal fishing, aquaculture and industrial captures was estimated at about 800,000 tonnes.
According to him, that accounts for only 30 per cent of the total annual fish demand estimated at 2.7 million tonnes.
The lawmaker revealed that Nigeria had resorted to importation to meet the deficit of about 1.9 million tonnes in domestic fish supply at an estimated cost of 625 million dollars in foreign exchange annually.
He said that the escalating demand for foreign exchange for fish importation was not sustainable in the light of the pressure on the country’s foreign reserves and fluctuating earnings from crude oil.
According to Raji, Nigeria has now become a dumping ground for all manners of frozen fish, most of which are unwholesome in quality and highly detrimental to the health of consumers.
He said that with the abundant marine and inland fisheries resources comprising 923,768 kilometres in land area, 47,934 kilometres continental shelf and 853 kilometres of coastlines.
Others, he said, were network of rivers, flood plain, natural and man-made lakes, adding that Nigeria had all it took to become self-sufficient in fish production and a hub of fish exportation in West African Sub-region.
He charged the Federal Government on the need to vigorously pursue self-sufficiency in fish production so as to ensure food security and reserve for export. (NAN)