The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Ousman Sowe, Thursday presided over the commissioning of a surveillance boat that seeks to help curb the menace of illegal fishing activities in the territorial waters of The Gambia.
The patrol boat, which is handed to the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management at the Banjul Fisheries Jetty is part of the assets purchased under The Gambia component of the Regional Project Governance on Marine Resources Management Policy and Poverty Reduction in the West African Eco-Region (GoWAMER).
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at a cost of 9.950 million Euros implemented in seven countries of West Africa including The Gambia.
The boat seeks to strengthen monitoring and participatory surveillance of the territorial waters of The Gambia in an attempt to fight and dent the menace of illegal and unregulated fishing, as well as contributing to the conservation of the country’s fisheries resource.
PS Sowe said the project would also reduce poverty and maximise the benefits of our coastal and marine resources for the benefit of our communities. He added that the project also seeks to strengthen food security for coastal communities in the Eco-region by improving governance and promoting the adoption of good practices on the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources.
Attila Lajos, the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, said the EU has some of the world’s highest environmental standards, which he said, helped green its economy, protect nature, safeguard and strengthen the quality of lives in the EU.
“We believe in nature as a life support system, so we need to look after it, because we share resources like water, air, natural habitat and the species they support,” he said. “And we also share environmental standard to support them.”
The UNDP Resident Representative, Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekeotje, saidthe boat came at the right time as pressure on the coastal and marine resources is mounting; pointing out that boosting the capacity of monitoring the national waters is a critical component.
The project, she said, has recognised the West African Eco-region as one of the richest in the world in terms of fisheries and its agricultural productivity.
She indicated that incidents of illegal fishing in The Gambia are escalating particularly in the coastal areas, saying it is necessary to build the capacity of the coastal and marine resource institutions to be able to effectively monitor and control the marine protected areas of the country for proper management of marine resources and the ecosystem for “effective contribution towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
by Bekai Njie