Gambian authorities have secured two surveillance vessels to fight illegal fishing in the country’s territorial waters, James Gomez, Minister for Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters told journalists on Tuesday.
Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is a widespread phenomenon in the sub-region and Gambia is one of the hugely affected countries.
Despite its weak surveillance infrastructure, in 2018 alone, Gambia has seized three boats for fishing illegally in its waters.
The minister said the vessels that have already been secured will arrive in the country by February. “We have been working on this for two years,” said Gomez.
The Minister said fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing requires continuous monitoring and surveillance of the country’s waters.
Fisheries is the third highest contributor to the country’s GDP after tourism and agriculture but yet the sector is dominated by foreigners, mostly Senegalese.
Minister James said they want to change that. “We want to get Gambians into the industry to export fish and get money. It will surprise you to know that even our hotels are importing fish… Can you imagine with all the fish we have here the hotels are importing fish,” he said.
He said although they have not determine exactly the amount of money Gambia might have lost during the past 22 years “but just take for example the five million euros we signed with the EU for every six months and D70M we secured from January to date.”
“From January to now we have secured D46M from 10% landing, D12M from fishing vessels, D6M from arrested vessels,” he said.
Gomez said his ministry is now supplying fish to the prison, hospitals, SOS and other services because they have a social responsibility as a government to take care of those Gambians who are not privileged.
Minister Gomes further disclosed the ministry has submitted an application for membership to the International Convention for the Conservation of the Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and will follow the process leading to the granting of membership.