Illegalities jeopardising Africa’s fishing sub-sector -- Margaret Orakwusi

Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi

Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), condemned a number of illegalities including poaching, working against the growth of the fishing sub-sector.

Orakwusi in her address on Tuesday at the fourth Lagos International Maritime Week, delivered a paper titled “African Blue Economy, Innovation, Sustainability and Diversity.”

Orakwusi bemoaned a situation whereby fisheries sub-sector, which already nets over $270 billion annually is being hounded down by what she described as international conspiracy.

She said that but for the difficulties created by the Western countries that make it almost impossible for Nigerian marine products to access their market, the sector could have been generating more income, considering the wealth of resources in the nation’s waters.

Orakwusi referred to a period when NITOA had to lobby, built a labouratory for carrying out required tests for standards to get Nigeria out of a ban on exports of fish products.

She called attention on the need for diversifying Africa’s economies in the direction of adequate use of its ocean resources as a pathway to growth and development for the maritime sub-sectors including fisheries, tourism, offshore mining, maritime transport.

Speaking further, Orakwusi said proper attention for fisheries could guarantee huge job creation, food security, especially for ensuring adequate protein intake for young children.

To realise the full potential of the sector, she said it was needful for Africa to quicken decisions on dispute resolution as well as strengthen its maritime cooperative mechanism.

On the importance of information sharing and adequate communication systems to achieve set goals, Orakwusi said : “The Africa Union has launched its 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy in a bid to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of Africa’s maritime resources. 

"There is a need for the creation of a Command Exclusive Maritime Zone of Africa the environment and fisheries, share information and boost border protection and defence activities.”

She called for an effective maritime regulatory framework to ensure orderliness in fishing operations as well serve as instrument to properly manage conflict situations.

Considering the enormity of the challenges of checking illegal fishing, she advocated for the introduction of close periods to help protect the fish resources for seasons.