As Fisheries Bill gets amended D500,000 for illegal fish export

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A fine of at least D500,000 awaits individuals who illegally export fish or fishery products from the Gambia, contrary to the provisions of Section 60, sub-sections (1) or (2) of the recently amended Fisheries Bill. The bill stated that those in default of the fine will be handed a maximum jail term of 10 years in prison.

According to sub-setion 1 of the provision, no person shall export any fish or fishery products unless they have been processed in a fish processing establishment licensed in accordance with Section 59 of the Act; have met the standards required by the importing country;  and are accompanied by an export sanitary health certificate and an export permit.

Sub-section 2 states that, the Secretary of State may, by notice in the Gazette, prohibit or restrict the export of any prescribed species from The Gambia, including type or size of fish or fishery product, where in his or her opinion, the prohibition or restriction is required to protect the supply of fish to the domestic market or is in the interest of sustainable development and proper conservation and management of a fishery product.

These provisions were contained in a 103-page Fisheries Bill 2007, which was amended by members of the National Assembly on Tuesday, during the third sitting of the 2007 legislative year. The main aim of the bill is to provide legislation that will adequately address current practices, issues and trends in the sector and be in consonance with the principles enshrined in the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Presenting the bill, Yankuba Touray, Secretary of State for Fisheries and Water Resources, said the bill emanated from the fisheries policy designed by government in line with the goals of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

He recalled that the Fisheries Act 1991 is obsolete and has gaps, thus making the management of the sector based on existing legislation ineffective and unsustainable. “Numerous issues have emerged during the past 15 years both in the artisan and industrial fisheries sub-sectors, warranting the formulation of a new Act, which would reflect present realities and be able to address the needs and demands of responsible fisheries exploitation and utilisation, commensurate with resources management and conservation,” he said.

SoS Touray added that responsible fisheries management requires that, fisheries legislation should encompass all the current issues and stakeholders, with due recognition of fishing activities in the country’s marine waters by sub-regional and distant water fleets.

He informed the Assembly that the proposed bill provides the framework to establish sound and broad principles, objectives and requirements for responsible and effective fisheries conservation, management and development.

Supporting the bill, Hon Momodou Sanneh, Minority leader and NAM for Kiang West, welcomed the bill, noting that River Gambia is vital and Gambians should not allow foreigners to exploit it.

He urged the need for monitoring and control measures to be inclusive in the bill to deal with the illegal encroachment of foreign vessels into Gambian territorial waters.

Nominated member, Hon Seedy Njie, said the fishing industry is predominantly occupied by foreigners and therefore urged the state department to gear up in order to allow Gambian youths engage in the industry. Hon Njie observed that the high prices of goods in the market are caused by the absence of Gambian in exploiting the opportunities in the industry.

Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda West commended Secretary of State Touray and his team of experts on the bill, describing it as in line with internationally accepted standards. He added that, fish products are an important dietary item for Gambians and a source of employment. He urged the authorities to ensure that the laws in the bill are “properly” implemented.

Author: Written by Alhagie Jobe
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper