Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Dr Omar Touray, the secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, on saturday commissioned a new fishing trawler for The Gambia, at a ceremony held at the Gambia Ports Authority wharf, Banjul.
The fishing trawler is one of the two vessels which the Islamic Republic of Iran had agreed to provide for The Gambia under the framework of the bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Tehran.
Officially commissioning the trawler on behalf of President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, as part of activities marking the 14th anniversary of the July 22nd Revolution, SoS Touray described the vessel as a significant contribution that would go a long way towards augmenting government’s effort to ensure the judicious exploitation of the country’s fish and maritime resources.
SoS Touray said that the fisheries sector is recognised for its potential to contribute significantly to the growth of the economy, noting that the sector will continue to occupy centre-stage in government’s development agenda.
He added that fish resources have a direct exponential relationship with the health and nutritional status of the people, and its exploitation - when judiciously managed - can contribute immensely to alleviating poverty and creating employment and income-earning opportunities for Gambians.
He gave a statistical breakdown of the Catch Assessment Survey (2006 and 2007), saying that the study reveals that the total catches covering both industrial and artisanal fisheries have increased from 39,728 metric tons in 2006 to over 1.48 million metric tons in 2007. “The value of exported fish and fishery products in 2006 and 2007 was D22.8 million and D67.4 million respectively,” he said.
However, he disclosed that the government recognises that the sector has been under-performing, accounting for a little over 4.2 per cent of the GDP. This, he added, is attributable to a number of factors, ranging from weak management of the sector, and the general absence of the requisite paraphernalia necessary to boost meaningful fishing activities in The Gambia, including those that promote investment in industrial fishing and fish production.
“A major concern of the government in the fisheries sector is about conservation to ensure that our fish resources are not over-exploited at the expense of the needs of the future generation. It is indeed worrying from recent statistics that our fish stocks are on the decline, particularly fish in the high-value chain.
A combination of factors explains this phenomenon which includes over-fishing, the inappropriate use of fishing methods that put the lives of juvenile fish at risk of extermination and even extinction, poaching and illegal fishing in our territorial waters by unscrupulous fishermen and unlicensed vessels,” he said.
He then warned that the government will leave no stone unturned and no person, company, or vessel will be spared in the drive to ensure compliance with existing regulations of fishing activities in The Gambia. He thanked the government and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the gesture and advised the beneficiaries to exercise maturity and responsibility in their use of the facility.
SoS Yankuba Touray underscored his department’s resolve to spare no effort to ensure that the high expectations placed on the sector be realised to the fullest. He stated that they will do everything necessary to create the enabling environment for private sector participation in the development of the sector, noting that the acquisition of this trawler is one significant step in that direction.
SoS Touray then reiterated that the government is working tirelessly to promote the fishing industry, through the rehabilitation of the fisheries landing sites in the country, among others, to better preserve fish and fishery products. He also thanked the government of Iran for such gesture.
Saed Zare, the Iranian ambassador to The Gambia, spoke of the existing cordial relations between The Gambia and Iran. He described the assistance as the duty of a Muslim nation to a sister Muslim nation. He expressed satisfaction with the friendship between the two nations, but noted that this had been more strengthened when President Jammeh attended the Islamic Conference in Iran and when President Ahmadenijad also attended the AU Summit in The Gambia.
He assured the gathering of their readiness to cooperate with The Gambia in various sectors, including fisheries, investment and ICT. He then used the occasion to congratulate President Jammeh on the 14th anniversary of the July 22nd anniversary.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Abdourahman Bah, the deputy managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority and Lamin Nyabally, the permanent secretary, at the Department of State for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, who chaired the ceremony.
Present at the ceremony were the speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, the chief justice, Abdou Karim Savage, secretaries of state and other dignitaries.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe