Reps to investigate alleged illegal fishing worth $70m in Nigerian waters

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate alleged illegal fishing worth 70million dollars by Chinese and European trawlers in Nigerian waters.

This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Patrick Ifon (PDP-Akwa Ibom) at plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion, Ifon said that fish was one of the healthiest food on earth as it contained nutrients such as vitamin D that was a great source of Omega–3 and Folic Acid.

He said that the minerals were important for body and brain’s development and contributed about 40 per cent of the country’s protein intake.

According to Ifon, Nigeria as a nation with large coastal area is rich in marine species, yet over half of the fish being consumed are imported from China and Netherland.

The rep said that report from the World Fish Centre in 2017 placed Nigeria’s fish production at 759.828 metric tonnes annually.

Ifon said that Nigeria was the fourth largest importer of fish in the world with about two million metric tonnes per annum for an estimated population of over 200 million people.

“Nigeria loses a whopping sum of 70 million dollars annually to Chinese and other  European Trawlers due to illegal fishing in the nations waters as observed by the Nigerian  Navy in 2017.

“In spite of Nigeria’s non-fishing agreement with distant nations such as China and the European Union, illegal fishing on Nigeria’s waters persists due to bilateral agreements with the nearby Country of Sao Tome and Principe.

“The Overseas Development Institute’s Report of 2018 that illegal fishing boats from  China, Netherlands and Spain operating in the country’s territorial waters commonly transfer catches  from their trawlers into container and cargo vessels on the high seas, thereby flouting quota regulations.

“The Gulf of Guinea Commission which was established in 2001 to check issues bordering on fisheries beyond 20 nautical miles of each member nation is yet to come up with a legally binding framework to tackle illegal fishing activities.

“Illegal and unregulated fishing in Nigeria’s waters undermines the economy,  poses a security threat to the nation’s territorial waters, degrades the coastal communities and renders  artisan fishermen redundant,’’ he said.

The House urged Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to put measures in place to curb illegal fishing in Nigerian waters.

The green chambers urged the Federal Government to review its licensing policy as it tended to favour foreign trawlers at the expense of their local counterparts.

The lawmakers said that the policy should be reviewed to encourage indigenous investments in the agricultural sector.

The lower chambers also urged the government to prevail on the Gulf of Guinea Commission to introduce a legally binding framework to check excessive fishing or overfishing in the region.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila mandated the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services to investigate the matter and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.