By Chukwuemeka Opara
Abakaliki – The Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) on Tuesday said that the country’s annual fish production capacity of N1.1 million metric tonnes was ” abysmal”.
Dr Agbabiaka Adegoke, National President of the society, stated this in Abakaliki during the 34th Annual Conference of the society.
The theme of the conference is ‘’Fisheries and Aquaculture: A catalyst for Nigeria’s Economic Growth”.
Adegoke said the figure was grossly inadequate of a nation whose population was over 190 million.
Represented by Mrs Ansa Ebinimi, the society’s Deputy President in charge of Finance and Linkages, Adegoke said: ” Nigeria is a fish consuming nation with an annual demand of 3.5 million metric tonnes.
“This production sources cover aquaculture, artisanal and industrial sectors as the development makes the country a net importer of fish to meet its fish demands.
“To achieve self sufficiency in food-fish production, government in the last decade has made a paradigm shift under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
“Fisheries and aquaculture have been considered in this agenda as a business and included in several transformational programmes and projects of the government.
“These programmes include; the National Aquaculture Transfer Centres, Demonstration Fish Farms, National Accelerated Fish Production programme, Brood Stock Development and the National Fish Hatchery Development projects.”
The society’s president said these transformational efforts were aimed at restructuring and transforming fishery to a business-oriented sector.
“FISON has consulted with the different stakeholders and tiers of government including agencies for the progressive growth of fisheries and aquaculture potentials of Nigeria.
“FISON’s leadership is working hard on the principle of backward integration to reduce importation of fish and grow local investors towards linkages with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“This intervention is to develop small scale fisheries and aquaculture as we are in serious talks with CBN on local fish production, reduction of interest rate and associated bottle-necks in anchor-borrowers scheme,” he said.
According to him, the society aims at collaborating with organisations, societies and groups which have related interests in states, national level and across the world.
Speaking at the event Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi commended FISON for choosing the state to host the conference, noting that it was in recognition of its fishery potentials.
“There is no delicacy consumed in the country without fish as our people should know that fisheries is presently a lucrative business.
“People hear more of rice production in Ebonyi than fisheries because rice farmers are more in number and more serious with fisheries being a new application in the state’s agricultural sector.
“The government has assisted fish farmers with incentives, provided a land for them, which presently contains about 34 ponds and is planning to establish a fish processing plant,” he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Moses Nome at the occasion.
Also, Mr Daniel Ogbogu, Head, Development Finance Office of the CBN, Ebonyi branch, urged fish farmers in the state and across the country to embrace the bank’s anchor borrowers scheme for farmers.