The 6th regional steering committee meeting of the West African Regional Fisheries Programme (WARFP) on Thursday kicked off at a local hotel in Kololi. The two-day synergy was under the supervision of the Permanent Secretariat of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).
The objective of the meeting was to discuss and validate the 2016 work plan and budget for regional activities that are implemented by regional coordination units, as well as the status of project implementation at both national and regional levels. It was also designed to enable them learn about constraints and lessons in order to make recommendations with a view to fast track project implementation.
Ousman Sowe, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, said the hosting of the event in The Gambia is a demonstration of the importance the country attached to the meeting.
He stated that countries in the region have assessed and identified challenges and want to generate wealth out of their marine and fisheries resources.
“Among the nine countries only The Gambia is yet to fully benefit from the World Bank support extended to WARFP. However, we hope that the current initiative to make Gambia join its contemporary states, as stated by acting permanent secretary will soon become a reality,” he remarked.
Sowe indicated that when the country joins the regional programme it will make Gambia equal among her peers in the region.
He went on: “We as a country hope and wish that the World Bank will consider the case of The Gambia. To the regional members, the Gambia expects that you will support its bid to join the regional programme and as our neighbours and regional member states you will go far and beyond to ensure Gambia joins”.
Asberr N. Mendy, representative of the World Bank, noted that the World Bank’s mission is to eradicate poverty and boost shared prosperity in a sustainable manner.
He maintained that the Bank through the West Africa Regional Fisheries Programme is supporting the government of the member states of the regional fisheries commission, plus Liberia and Ghana to put in place sustainable fisheries management system that guarantees greater proportion of the wealth generated from the exploitation of the marine resources.
The West Africa region, he went on, is one of the richest fishing zones in the world due to exceptional climatic and ecological conditions, representing a significant jurisdiction and a source of opportunity.
“Innovative fisheries management could deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region,” he posited.
Mendy recommended that as the West African fisheries continue to expand, policies need to guide the industry to prevent further resources degradation, rebuild overexploited stocks, and manage overall fishing efforts.
The Director of Fisheries at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources, Matarr Bah, said fisheries and agriculture occupy great proportion of the SRFC member states development agenda due to the sectors’ indisputable contribution to the promotion of the health of the citizens through good nutrition as well as addressing poverty and unemployment in the country.
Bah however noted that there had been great concerns over the declining performance of this important sector in terms of its contribution to the socio-economic development of the country.
Marieme Diagne Talla, acting permanent secretary at SRCF, said the waters of the coastal countries of the West Africa are the most endowed in terms of fish resources and each year an estimated 1.6 million tones; to the tune of two-billion dollars contributes to food security of the populations of the region.
She said if that is managed well it will significantly contribute to the economic growth and poverty alleviation in the region.
“The main objective of WARFP” she went on, is global wealth generation from the exploitation of the fisheries resources targeting various countries and ensure [fair] distribution of wealth by establishing a good system”.
by Omar Wally