GAMBIA – Gambian Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources, and National Assembly Matters has disclosed that the West African nation, being a member of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF), is exposed to incidences of overfishing impacting negatively its economy.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, fish and fish products contribute 12% to the Gambia’s economy and over 300,000 of the population depend on fishing as a means of livelihood.

“One out of two of Gambia’s fish stocks is overfished, and we have recommended mitigating measures to be instituted and enforced,” FAO experts said.

According to FAO research, overfishing has been a challenge many developing countries are grappling with and the Gambia is not an exception.

“This has resulted in many countries losing a significant amount of their revenue to pirates and other syndicates that continue to exploit our waters for their own good,” the research indicated.

Stakeholders in the Fisheries sector recently concluded a four-day data collection forum that was aimed at updating the Reference List for Area 34 and introducing a new assessment methodology.

Rishi Sharma, a senior FAO Research Officer stated that Governments have to be involved and that they have to institute compliance measures to eradicate overfishing.

The United Nations has recently set a goal under the Sustainable Development Goals to end overfishing by 2030. So far, 50% of the fish stock in countries within the CECAF is overfished according to preliminary results.

“Overfishing is caused by a lack of regulations, management, enforcement, and monitoring to control our waters,” Mr. Sharma added.

Momodou Sidibeh, Deputy Director of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, reminded that as one of the beneficiary countries, the training would help the country to properly collect and manage data at the Ministry of Fisheries.

Participants are expected to use the “State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) Analysis model to ‘dig deep’ into the available data on demersal and pelagic fisheries.

They would at the end of the training have an improved understanding of the current state of Fisheries stocks in CECAF.

The EAF-Nansen Programme, which is an initiative to support the implementation of the ecosystem approach in the management of marine fisheries, is supporting this process for the CECAF Area.

Research done by the Africa Development Bank Group indicated that Africa loses one million tonnes of fish per year due to overfishing and bad governance in the fisheries sector.

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