Nigeria is a maritime nation, with 9 of its 36 federal states having a coastline in the Atlantic Ocean. These coastal states are Ogun state, Lagos state, Ondo state, Edo state, Delta state, Bayelsa state, Rivers state, Akwa Ibom state, and Cross Rivers state; these states are located in the western and southern parts of the country. According to research, the fisheries and aquaculture subsector of agriculture in Nigeria, contributes about 3% – 5% to the agriculture share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Also, its annual domestic fish supply is about 400,000 MT. The country owns significant fisheries with a coastline of 853km and over 14 million hectares of inland waters. The Fisheries and aquaculture subsector contributes meaningfully to the Nigerian economy. This subsector of the Nigerian agriculture, through its presence in local communities, aids the development of rural areas. This is possible through its large provision of income, high-quality protein, and socioeconomic development of fishing communities in Nigeria.
The federal government renders support to the subsector.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, stated, at the Internal Coordination Meeting of Implementation of Fisheries Governance Project Phase 2 (FisheriesGov2), that over 10 million Nigerians are actively engaged in primary and secondary fisheries operations in the subsector of the economy. This improvement, like he said, would aid the creation of wealth for Nigerians. At the meeting, the minister assigned stakeholders to scrutinize every item on the agenda and provide sustainable and practical governance schemes for implementation to improve fish production in Africa.
In addition, the government would support the ministry, to boost local production, so as to reduce imports, reason being that it encourages backward integration through commercial aquaculture production. The subsector of the fisheries and aquaculture would further help the Nigerian economy, through the creation of more job opportunities, income generation, alleviation of poverty, provision of raw materials for the animal feed industry and foreign exchange earnings. It would also help to protect coastline and aquatic environments, species and habitats. Equally, it would be useful for marine life-related scientific research development.
The subsector would help reduce fish importation.
The total annual demand for fish in Nigeria is 3.6 Million Tons. With collaboration from all public sources (Artisanal, Aquaculture, and Industrial sectors), Nigeria is able to produce 1.1 million tons, with a deficiency of 2.5 million tons. As a result, the ministry works in collaboration with the private sector to supplement the demand by import reduction, through backward integration. In a bid to boost local production and reduce imports, the government encourages backward integration through commercial aquaculture production (pond and cage culture) for local consumption and export, and it has and still yields positive results.
The federal government has also put in place measures to enhance the works of the fisheries subsector. These measures include, the establishment of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in Lagos and Abuja for the sake of monitoring and controlling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing along Nigeria Continental Shel. Fish storage and marketing project to increase shelf keeping quality and limit post harvest losses of fish and fishery products. Fish farm clusters to increase fish production and engage the abounding youths and women. Lake enhancement project to increase fish production and make a sustainable livelihood for the fisherfolks. The aforementioned programs are established for the creation of job opportunities, creation of wealth, poverty reduction, prevention of youth restiveness and food nutrition security.
The subsector would contribute to the advancement of the continent.
The acting director of The African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Dr. Nick Nwankpa, stated that the importance of institutional collaboration for the sustainable exploitation and management of fisheries, aquaculture and other blue economy resources gained recognition by the project. When coordinated well enough, the fisheries governance would take cognizance of functions of the various African Union Commission (AUC) departments. It would contribute immensely to the integrated development of the sector and the socio-economic advancement of the continent.