The federal government has raised the alarm over illegal transshipment by foreigners on African waters as new method of engaging in Illegal, Unregistered and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
This was even as the federal government called for continental approach to put a stop to IUU in the region. The appeal was made yesterday by an assistant director, Federal Department of Fisheries, Popoola Babatunde, at the 33rd annual conference of Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FSN), tagged Itesiwaju Eko, held in Lagos yesterday.
Popoola, who called for regional cooperation to tackle illegal fishing in Africa, said transshipment is illegal unless application is sought from relevant authority and approval granted.
He said: “Transshipment is illegal and if you want to do transshipment you must apply so that they (government) will give you the authority to do it maybe as a result of distress. You cannot just be doing transshipment because if you are doing transshipment on your own, it is illegal so many of them go as far as doing transshipment without recourse to the authority.
“There is need for political will because if there is no political will, there is nothing we can do we need to count and say this is the resources and we need to preserve it or else, we wake up one day and we realise that there is no fish in the water anymore.’’
The assistant director who also harped on national intra agency support also identified low awareness, weak and ineffective monitoring, control and surveillance as factors making African vulnerable to fisheries crime.
“Absence of political will and necessary diplomatic action to facilitate regional cooperation, inadequate legal and justice system, low penalties for IUU fishing crimes and low awareness has called on other African countries to come together to fight Illegal, Unregulated and Unregistered fishing across the region.”
Executive secretary of the Gulf Of Guinea Commission, Amb. Florentina Ukonga at the Gulf Of Guinea Conference on the maritime sector, held in Lagos said the largely underdeveloped and poorly governed state of the coastal region is a major drawback.
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