Addressing the delegates, the Hon Vice President stated that, the Coastal States of West Africa, especially Member States of SRFC are bestowed with some of the richest fishing potentials in the world.
He said this is contributing immensely to the livelihoods and nutrition of people in those countries including the economies of those respective countries.
Quoting FAO report on fisheries, Vice President Dr. Juldeh Jalloh said, West Africa produces about 1.6M tons of legal catch of Marine Fish per annum with an estimated wholesale value of about US $2.5B. This estimation, he added, is understood to be twice below the unreported catch.
VP Jalloh furthered that, the marine fish stock in the sub-region represented a vital natural asset and that it plays a considerable role in the socio-economic and cultural lives of the population.
Speaking on some of the challenges of the fisheries sector, the Hon. Vice President said the sector is tortured with poor fisheries governance and management regimes, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, over fishing, indiscrimate cutting down of coastal mangrove vegetation, inadequate policies, regulations and overfishing of the commercially exploited stock.
The Hon. Vice President said combating those challenges require effective regional cooperation and coordination, concerted efforts from individual countries, harmonizing the Fisheries Policy and Legal Framework, and the need for transparent and accountability of fisheries information to relevant stakeholders and the public.
He assured the gathering of His Excellency President Bio’s commitment to invest in the sector and strengthen strategic partnership with sister countries and development partners to put fishing governance on a sound footing.
In her welcome address earlier, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Fatima Jabbie Bio called on the delegates to invest, collaborate with and support the ‘New Direction’ in boasting the fisheries sector of the country. She encouraged them to work as partners in developing the Sub- Region of Africa, the Fisheries Sector and Marine Resources.
In his statement, the outgoing Chairman of the Conference of Ministers of the Sub- Regional Fisheries Conference, the Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Maritimes Economy of the Republic of Guinea, Hon. Fredrick Loua reiterated and urged the delegates to embark on regional collaboration in order to defeat the challenges faced by the sub- region fisheries sector.
The incoming Chairman of the Conference of Ministers of the SRFC, the Minister of Work Economy of Cape Verde, Julio Herbert Lodes in his speech reechoed the reinforcement of regional integration in the fisheries sector and marine sectors of their countries’ economies.
He emphasized on the need for a common approach that will contribute to their resilient to foster their water resources, the need for more consistency, vision, strategy and action that will go with their aspirations of water resources.