By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Governors along Nigeria’s internal and territorial waters bordering the Atlantic Ocean are expected to have a strategic meeting with the service chiefs soon on how piracy, poaching and sea robbery can be duly addressed in order to boost the country’s fish production as well as her domestic economy.
Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Co-operatives, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal, disclosed this Thursday, while addressing a news conference at the state secretariat, Alausa, on the maiden edition of the state seafood festival, which will hold on November 10 at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island.
He expressed concerns over what he described as the increasing activities of pirates along the country’s territorial waters and high seas, noting that their activities had informed the planned meeting between the coastal states’ governors and service chiefs.
Lawal, who addressed the conference along with the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Yakubu Bashorun, explained that the governors from such states as Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Lagos, Ondo and Rivers among others, “are to meet the service chiefs soonest on the security challenges on our waters.”
He added that the governors of the states along the country’s coastline “are already working together to put an end to piracy, fish poaching and sea robbery. Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), had already met the naval strategists at the Western Naval Command on how to fight illegal activities on the state waters and beyond.”
He, however, noted that Lagos “is relatively a secure state. But it is not just an issue of Lagos State and Nigeria. It equally involves countries along the Gulf of Guinea. Asians come to our waters to fish illegally. It is not what Lagos State alone can do. We are collaborating with the Federal Government and international agencies.”
Lawal spoke about the strategic plan of the state government to achieve one million metric tonnes of fish production in the next three years in spite of the fact that the present capacity was just 125,000 metric tonnes, which he said, was even a huge gap from the state seafood need currently put at 650,000 metric tonnes.
He explained that the imminent seafood festival under a theme; Lagos Seafood: Boosting the Potential of the Fishery Industry was one of the strategies of the state to realise its food security objectives.
He acknowledged that the multinationals in the fish industry posed daunting threat to the local production, but expressed the strong will of the state “to boost seafood production and provide incentives for the local producers. We are organising the seafood festival to support local markets and competitiveness.”
He said the festival was to celebrate Lagos traditional delicacies and maritime heritage; develop networking among stakeholders; share knowledge and technology used in the industry; exchange information on products and services available in the global markets, stimulate investment potentials of Lagos in relations to aquaculture and artisanal fisheries; positively impact the economy of Lagos in the short and long terms and ultimately feature as a major tourist attraction and destination for local and international tourists.