Developing fishing industry for wealth creation

THE PUNCH Newspaper-Sulaiman Adenekan

The role of the fishing industry to the economic development of Nigeria cannot be underestimated, as it contributed over 65 per cent employment in the rural reverine communities.

Fish is a diverse group of animals that live and breathe in water with backbones, gills for breathing, streamlined with pointed snout and pointed posterior and broad propulsive tail.

The Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Prof. Peter Onwualu, says that the fishing industry needs to be developed by improving on rearing, processing and packaging of fish and fish products.

He says part of the strategy for the development of the industry is the adoption of fishing cluster, adding that RMRDC is currently working towards facilitating the emergence of raw materials processing clusters in different parts of the country.

Onwualu says, ”Under this programme, existing clusters shall be strengthened, while new ones shall be created where necessary by providing common facilities in the area of infrastructure, access to markets, capacity building in skills, access to finance, and access to technology.

”This programme will see the emergence of at least one technology based raw materials processing cluster in each of the 774 local government areas of this country. Such a cluster shall be a forum for all stakeholders in the fish industry to come together towards making Nigeria a vibrant hub for fish and fish products in Africa.”

Onwualu says, the cluster will cover all area of fishery including aquaculture, feeds, processing, marketing, packaging, fingerlings among others, adding that the formation of the cluster will facilitate economic development of the country.

He says the emergence of the fishing cluster will be activated through the hosting of the temporary secretariat of a continental body working on promoting competitiveness in industries named Pan African Competitiveness Forum, in Nigeria.

He says the body will function through the use of industrial cluster, as a medium for putting in place the triple helix concept of bringing the government, research and industry together for achieving a common economic objective.

According to him, the concept will bring about the required collaboration among stakeholders for infusing necessary innovations that will make the products competitive in the global economy, through which employment and wealth will be created and consequently reduce high rate of poverty in the country.

Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Dr. Olajide Ayinla, says fish farmers have made significant gains through the aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Project, which has assisted more than 50 new investors to enter the enterprise.

He says intensive fish farming, with improved locally made fish feeds and new technology has helped many farmers, adding that aquaculture is a fast growing sector that needs to be explored.

Ayinla says, ”Aquaculture is growing at an annual average rate of 10 per cent since the mid-1980s, reaching 59.4 million tons, including aquatic plants) with a farm gate value of $70.3bn in 2004. More than 90 per cent of aquaculture production occurs in developing countries, and China alone accounts for 67 per cent of global production.

“Aquaculture products account for about 15 per cent of global consumption of fish and meat, and in the near future aquaculture is likely to contribute more than half of the world‘s supply of food fish. In addition to a growing list of non-food products and environmental services, aquaculture provides an important livelihood, directly employing more than 12 million people in Asia.”

According to him, modern aquaculture has developed into a dynamic, capital-intensive business, frequently controlled by vertically integrated corporate giants of the food and retail industry, adds that there have been major increase in aquaculture productivity along the entire production and supply chain.

He added that what drives aquaculture industry is market for smallholders and commercial farmers, as it leads to increased production and competition which result in reduced product prices and further market penetration.

Also, Dr. Dotun Oladele of the Animal Care Services Konsult Nigeria Limited says the greatest challenge confronting fish farmers worldwide is the issue of maintaining a high livability of fish from the larvae/fry stage to adult/ table sized stage in their aquaculture operations.

He says the issue of disease prevention and control should be taken seriously, adding that where there are no strategies in place to that effect, will not allow farmers to have control over an eventual loss that may be incurred.

“The best insurance against losses in aquaculture operation is a combination of good management practices and knowledge of disease prevention and control. From our laboratory and field experience, disease outbreaks on fish farms are usually multifactorial. Oftentimes tree usually preceded disease outbreaks.

”Poor fish management practices include poor fish tank hygiene; rough handling of fishes during sorting; use of equipments (e.g nets) without routine washing and disinfection and rinsing properly with water; feeding dead fishes to others (thus transferring disease agents); overstocking; overfeeding; wrong application of antibiotics and chemicals, resulting in toxicity problems and mortality,” he said.


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