Nigeria's Domestic Fish Production Gains Traction on Declining Piracy

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Eromosele Abidun

Following the measures put in place by the federal government to tackle piracy and investment in agriculture, local fish production has continued to witness a significant boost, growing by 0.8 per cent at the end of last year.

The agriculture sector continues to play an important role in Nigeria’s economy and is a key part of the federal government’s plans to attain sustainable economic growth. Within the sector, the fisheries segment delivered a growth rate of 5.9 per cent year-on-year (y/y) in 2015.

However, in second quarter (Q2) 2016, it contracted for the first time in over five years. This, analysts said was not surprising given that the country’s macroeconomic challenges resulted in a general slowdown across all sectors.

Meanwhile, the latest gross domestic products (GDP) figures showed that fisheries have recovered as it grew by 0.8 per cent year-on-year(y/y). Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that artisanal production accounted for around 76.8 per cent of the 1.04 million tonnes of fish produced in 2015.

Industrial (trawling) fish farming accounted for only eight per cent of the total, indicating that commercial fisheries are still largely untapped. A recent data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed that annual national supply has increased to 1.1 million metric tonnes (mmt) from 800 metric tonnes.

The supply gap has, however, reduced slightly to 1.0 million metric tonnes.
“Based on our estimates, Nigeria’s annual fish import bill has now declined by 42 per cent. We attribute the boost in annual fish production to the progress made as a result of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) import substitution policy.

“To assist with improving fish farming activities, the CBN provided a N2 billion long term facility under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme to Triton Aqua (an Indian aquaculture firm operating in Nigeria). We understand that Triton Aqua has partnered with a few state governments to provide the necessary technology that would encourage aquaculture. The forward steps towards self-sufficiency in fisheries are laudable. However, structural issues such as power shortages, poor access to finance and challenges with logistics amongst others still exist,” said analysts at FBN Quest.

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, recently said Nigeria was targeting 100 piracy-free 2017.

He said Nigeria hopes to move to 90 per cent in international security compliance rating after the visit of the Coast Guards (United States) to inspect Nigeria’s systems.

Explaining the new security ratings of the agency, Peterside said the rating had moved from nine per cent before the new board came in to 97 per cent at the end of 2016.

Peterside, who was in Port Harcourt as part of a tour of NIMASA facilities in the zone (Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River), said the feat had shot Nigeria up to one of the top four nations in Africa.

“NIMASA is determined and hopes to soar to at least 90 per cent. Cases of piracy reduced in 2016 and so far in 2017, only one attempt is recorded and it was foiled too by NIMASA and Navy vigilance. We want to hit 100 per cent piracy-free year by end of 2017,” he said.
He admitted that the change of fortunes in NIMASA with high security rating had attracted more investors into Nigeria’s maritime sector and boosted the federal government’s revenue base as well as the GDP of the nation in 2016.

“The only regret is that, though we increase in naira revenue but in terms of dollars, it gets lower due to depreciating foreign exchange rate,” he said.

“Surveillance, we have installed gadgets that make us see all our coastal waters at the same time. This helps us to see whatever is happening. Intelligence gathering, we have increased our intelligence gathering efforts and built a mechanism to monitor things,” he said.