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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Illegal fishing: Nigeria loses $60m annually
Nigeria loses about $60 million dollars annually through illegal fishing in the countrys territorial waters, according to authoritative sources.
Sources at the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources said that unregulated, unauthorised and unreported fishing activities took place in the countrys territorial waters.
The sources told newsmen that foreigners now have unfettered access to Nigerias water bodies because officials of the ministry no longer patrolled them.
The Tide newsmen learnt that in the past, the Fisheries Department and the Nigerian Navy mounted joint patrols of the territorial waters to guard against illegal fishing.
The ministry, however, abandoned the patrol in 2002 to the Navy, though it was aware of ongoing illegal fishing.
The ministry stopped active participation for more than six years to the detriment of the nation.
Before commercial access to the Nigerian waters is granted, a licence must be issued by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, but now it has become history, said a source.
Meanwhile, Mr Sam Azebeokhai, the president of the Nigerian Trawlers Association, has urged the federal government to pay urgent attention to the activities of pirates.
Azebeokhai said the absence of security had remained a major concern.
He said that the pirates usually hijacked trawlers in the high sea, dispossessed them of their fish and other valuables and in most cases, killed the people.
Government should focus attention on the loss of lives and other complex issues surrounding fishing in the country, the president said.
He also called on the new minister to re-visit the issue of patrol of the territorial waters by the ministry for appropriate actions to be taken.
He said the association and the Navy patrol team were not well equipped to confront pirates with sophisticated weapons.
The Tide learnt that poaching by foreign fleets, and piracy were major constraints to the sector.
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