Operator bemoams high cost of commercial fishing in Nigeria

Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi
Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, a former President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), has attributed the high cost of commercial fishing in Nigeria to the absence of fishing terminals in the country.
Onyema-Orakwusi  said in an interview in Lagos that commercial fishermen were finding the business difficult because they were compelled to provide all the needed facilities themselves.
``In Nigeria, if you want to come into fishing you have to provide everything by yourself and for yourself.
``You have to provide a jetty which now runs into billions; you have to have your own workshop - carpentry workshop and mechanical workshop.
``You have to now have your own dump where you put the AGO (Automotive Gas Oil-Diesel). You have to have your cold room. You have to have everything you need.
``This is not what happens abroad. Abroad, you have fishing terminals. Fishing terminals are dedicated to provide services for the fishing industry whereby more players come in.
``The man making the rope would have his own workshop. You do not have to run your own.
``Your vessel comes back from sea, there is a company that can service (it) and then your vessel goes; you pay as you go.
“You share all these facilities and you pay for them. You do not have to own everything because it is making the point of entry so expensive.’’
Onyema-Orakwusi, however, alleged that efforts by the association to establish a facility for commercial fishing were frustrated.
She said that if developed, the facility at Kirikiri could create jobs and generate income for the government.
``We made a good case. Our former President, Olusegun Obasanjo was listening to all of us.
``This was why they removed a portion, Kirikiri Phase 2 and portion of Phase1.
``When they were doing the concession agreement they left that as a dedicated area for the international fishing terminal.
``Of course the rest is history. One of the main reasons we went fighting for the facility is that this is food.
``You cannot have a jetty for fish or food and then have a cement factory by the side or have a tank farm because of contamination.
``And again put everybody together to encourage people to come in; it will be cheaper to operate and this is a foreign exchange earner.
``It is a huge employer of labour and fishing because what we like (to do) in this country is to ship raw materials, no value addition and that is where you create the employment.
``And that is why you rely less on imported goods.’’