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First Fisheries Ministers Confab Opens In Banjul

SOUTH AFRICA - The first conference of African ministers on fisheries and aquaculture began yesterday (20 September) at the conference hall of the Sheraton Hotel Resort and Spa in Brufut, The Gambia.

Funded by the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU) the Banjul conference will deal on the AU Paper on Fisheries Policy and Governance Reform in Africa. The paper stresses that a good governance framework is required for the delivery of the strategy, given that many fisheries are potentially extremely valuable assets, reports AllAfrica.com.

It also observed that this framework should be based on the development of policies, institutions and processes to facilitate the planning, design and implementation of appropriate fisheries development and management arrangements. The conference, which has as its theme "African Fisheries and Aquaculture," contributing towards agricultural development and economic growth, will kick-off with experts in fisheries developing a strategy plan for the African fisheries sector and aquaculture from 20-21st September, while the fisheries ministers will meet on the 23rd to agree or not to agree on the recommendations of the experts.

The experts will also access the implementation of the action plan of the NEPAD Fish for all, which was adopted by the head of states and governments in 2005, which plans to improve management of natural reserves of fish and to develop the aquaculture production and stimulate the fish trade at national, regional and world markets.

In his official opening statement at the conference, Lamin Kabba Bajo, the minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters said Africa's fisheries sectors makes vital contribution to the food and nutrition security of over 200 million people and provides income for over 10 million people engaged in fish production, processing and trade. He added that fish has today become even a leading export commodity for Africa, but that its benefits have been at risk as the exploitation of natural fish stocks are reaching their catch limits and aquaculture production is yet to attain its potential.

Minister Bajo observed that there is still need for an agreement to ensure far greater consistency between existing fisheries initiatives at regional and national levels. He stressed that it is worthwhile to point out that individual states may well reform their fisheries policies and governance that remain vulnerable to the activities of their neighbours. Therefore, efforts will be needed to ensure regional collaboration, potentially through Regional Economics Communities (RECs) Regional Fisheries Bodies and other stakeholders to address the needs of shared, straddling and highly migratory stocks and high seas fish resources, he stated.

He then informed the gathering that the Gambia government recognises that the problems of depleting fishery stocks, degradation of coastal environment and the loss of coastal habitats are trans-boundary in character.

the Fish Site Editor

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