Promoting distance water fishing in Lagos

The Lagos  seafood industry is a powerful economic driver. It supports job creation and commercial harvesting, farming, processing and retailing. There is a move by the government to promote distance water fishing by empowering more individuals to invest in trawler business, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

 

Lagos State is one of Nigeria’s top seafood exporters. Its products are sold worldwide, contributing to the N25 billion the nation earned last year from seafood. It has  the most competitive fishing industry.The fishing industry has  continued to expand. Commercial fishing has continued to play a vital role in the state‘s economy, proving full-time jobs in rural and coastal communities.

The state has set the goal of increasing its self-sufficiency in food production from 15  per cent to 25 per cent by 2030, to address food security amid climate change. It has re-enforced its vision for growth, with commitment to job creation and long-term prosperity through a broad range of fisheries and aquaculture measures.

The Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, emphasised the continued importance of opening the fisheries industry to international market to ensure long term growth and prosperity and to create job opportunities for Nigerians.

The state is working on deep-sea trawling. He said trawl fishing constituted an important part of the marine fisheries sector, providing livelihoods and food for millions of people in coastal communities as well as feed for the growing aquaculture sector.

He noted that the state government would be employing the deep sea trawling to capture the big fishes in the deeper sea in Lagos.

“Next year by the grace of God, we will engage on the deep sea trawling that allows us to go inner and get the bigger fishes. That along with our other interventions would allow us to employ close to 10,000 youths in the five divisions of the state,” he said.

He said Lagos’s fishing industry is facing a bigger opportunity brought by increasingly demanding deep seawater products.

He said the state was supporting more firms to establish and participate in full-scale fishing business.

As a result, he said the state was going to support   increase in number and size of distant-water fishing companies to create more jobs.

The structure of the distant-water fishing industry, he added, was well organised, while the market is fully developed.

He said there was a cohesive vision for aquaculture and that the Ministry of Agriculture had outlined targets and prioritises sustainable development.

Hamzat said Lagos is about to launch a multimillion Aquaculture Centre of Excellence (L.A.C.E.) to provide a major boost to the fast growing fisheries sector that already ships a major portion of its output to overseas markets.

He added that the supply of fish and other seafood products in the state was insufficient to meet the fish and seafood demands of Lagosians, hence the need to have a private sector driven aquaculture centre. He pointed out that the project includes the establishment of a 50million fish hatchery facility, projected 2000 tonnes yearly table sized fish production schedule, 24,000 tonnes yearly fish feed mill as well as a 20,000 tonnes yearly fish and seafood processing centre.

Hamzat said: “We estimated the supply of fish and other seafood at 174,553 tons per annum to be insufficient for Lagosians; therefore, we have collaborated with a private sector investor on the establishment of the Lagos Aquaculture Centre of Excellence to boost fish production.

“This project includes the establishment of a 50 million fish hatchery facility, projected 2000 tonnes per annum table sized fish production schedule, 24000 tonnes per annum fish feed mill and a 20000 tonnes per annum fish and seafood processing centre.”

He added that the Lagos Seafood Festival had become a pedestal for talented Lagosians to display their culinary skills in preparing salivating dishes with the abundant aquatic species from the environment.

“The reality is that Lagos has a population of more than 22 million with a consumption demand for fish and other seafood of 374,000 tons annually, meanwhile supply hovers near 155, 262 tons per annum.

“This supply deficit provides us with a viable investment opportunity for Lagosians to key into and benefit from the value chain attached to the aquatic or fisheries business sector.

“Fish or seafood is low in cholesterol when compared with beef and it has a distinct taste that makes food more desirable and very palatable to the consumer. The Lagos Seafood Festival has become a pedestal for talented Lagosians to display their culinary skills in preparing salivating dishes with the abundant aquatic species from the environment,” he added.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, stressed that the contribution of fisheries value chain to the nation’s socio economic wealth could not be over emphasised, particularly against the background of employment creation, provision of valuable animal protein, rural development and foreign exchange inflow through the export of shrimps, smoked fish and other fish products.

She explained that last year, 5,000 tonnes of seafood valued at over N25 billion were exported by operators in Nigeria.

“It is in recognition of this fact, that the state government is currently implementing various projects in the fisheries ecosystem that will drive increased food production and socio-economic transformation of the rural areas of the state.

“These projects include the establishment of Fish Farm Estate Projects, provision of fishing inputs to fishermen in the State; establishment of the Cage culture System, as well as the establishment of Farmers’ Mart to serve as marketing centre for agriculture products,” Olusanya stated.