The Vice President and minister of Women’s Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy, yesterday on behalf of President Yahya Jammeh officially inaugurated the new Banjul Fisheries Jetty at Bund Road in Banjul.
A component the Gambia Artisanal Fisheries Development Project, the project was jointly funded by the Gambia government, the African Development Bank and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa.
The US$14.5 million project (first phase) and US$7.4 million (second phase), commenced in 2003 and was due to close in December 2013.
In her inaugural statement, the Vice President said the fisheries sector continues to occupy centre stage in the government’s development agenda, due to the indisputable contribution this sector makes in promoting the health of Gambians through good nutrition, as well as addressing poverty and unemployment in the country, among others.
‘‘In the area of artisanal fisheries, Government is determined and highly committed to ensure that all major artisanal fish landing sites within the country are provided with the necessary infrastructure facilities, fishing and fish processing equipments and means for fish distribution and marketing throughout the country,’’ she stated.
According to the Vice President, it is gratifying to observer that fish production is increasing, post harvest losses are decreasing and high quality fresh and processed fish products are available for consumption at relatively affordable prices.
Noting that the artisanal fisheries sub-sector, unlike the industrial sub-sector, continues to flourish, VP Njie-Saidy said the industrial fisheries sub-sector has not lived up to expectations partly due to the inadequacies of the wherewithal to ensure successful operations.
‘‘One of the key issues that have not helped the development of the industrial fisheries sub-sector is weak management, and ensuring quality of fish and fisheries products that meet international standards,’’ she stated.
She noted that another principal constraint to the development of the industrial sub-sector is the lack of national industrial trawlers.
‘‘The need for adequate national fishing trawlers to constitute a national fishing fleet for fishing that would enhance the availability of fish in The Gambia cannot be over-emphasised,’’ she said, adding that that this is particularly pertinent given the reciprocal fishing access agreements signed with our partners within the sub-region.
Mass Axi Gye, minister of Fisheries and Water Resources, underscored the importance of the project, noting that research has shown that an estimated 200, 000 people in The Gambia are directly or indirectly employed in the fisheries sector, and fishery products contribute immensely to gross value of exports.
‘‘The importance of the fisheries sector in The Gambia, therefore, cannot be overemphasized and the Government is fully determined to see to it that the fisheries sector of The Gambia succeeds in meeting the national development policy objectives,’’ he stated.
The Fisheries minister however noted that the growth and development of the fisheries sector depends on the sustainable exploitation of the resources, and the availability of quality fish products for human consumption.
Noting that the operation of this jetty will greatly increase fish landings and create employment, Minister Axi Gye said its realization within the framework of the Gambia Artisanal Fisheries Development Project is an important milestone achievement, and a step in the right direction for the fisheries sector.
Peter Ndow, the project coordinator, said the specific objective of the project was to increase fish production and income of fisherfolk, and to contribute to the improvement of nutritional standards of the population.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Mustapha Colley, chairman of the board of directors of the Gambia Ports Authority.