The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya has announced the commencement of an empowerment and capacity building programme for artisanal fisheries within local communities in the State.
Making the disclosure, Olusanya explained that the intervention arose from the concern that fish landings by these fishermen have not been maximised, especially due to the high cost of fishing inputs and undesirable fishing practices. She noted that low catches have reduced the income of practitioners in the sector and resulted in rural-urban drift by younger fishermen seeking greener pastures.
According to her, the State Government has been empowering fishermen in the State with outboard engines, provision of boats and nets, among other equipment, to reduce the shuttle time during their fishing activities and support their operations.
“The Artisanal Fisheries sub-sector of the State’s fish supply chain presently contribute 80% of local fish production, which accounts for 40% of the State’s total fish demand. It also provides a major source of livelihood for fishermen in the State.
“However, fish landings by artisanal fisheries have not been maximised due to the high cost of fishing inputs, obnoxious fishing practices and pollution of the aquatic ecosystem which results in low fish catches and consequently reduced income for the fishing populace. This is responsible for the rural-urban drift by some of the younger generation of fishing families in search of greener pastures.
“In order to reverse this trend, the Ministry is implementing activities such as empowerment of artisanal fishermen with outboard engines to reduce the shuttle time to and fro fishing grounds. This is in addition to the provision of boats and nets to support their fishing operations.
“We are also sensitising and building their capacity on obnoxious fishing practices, utilisation and maintenance of the newly introduced 4-stroke outboard engines, as well as collaborating with financial institutions for alternative sources of finance,” she averred.
Pointing out that the artisanal fisheries value intervention would help provide access to cheap sources of finance for the acquisition of fishing inputs for fishermen, Olusanya said it will also make fishing attractive and seamless to youths, who in the past were neither ready to adopt fishing as a profession nor replace the ageing fishermen population.
The Commissioner further stated that the intervention would also improve fish landing per unit effort; increase income and enhance standard of living in artisanal fishing communities; and provide opportunities for fishermen to have access to banking services at various fishing communities across the State, while creating jobs and reducing the increasing rural-urban drift.
She disclosed that the State had comparative advantage in fishing and related activities within coastal communities, whose residents are predominantly fishermen, adding that the government would do all in its power to develop the fisheries sector in order to maximise productivity.
“Lagos State is a maritime State with 22% of its total land area as water. This is made up of a vast network of lagoon, rivers, swamps and other water bodies that are amenable for fish production and a 180km Atlantic Ocean coastline.
“The State thus has a comparative advantage in fishing and its related activities which forms the predominant occupation of the people living along coastal and inland water areas of the State,” the Commissioner asserted.