By Mama A. Touray
The Gambia Environmental Alliance on Tuesday presented an extensive strategy report to The National Assembly select committee for the environment on recent outbreaks of avian influenza, fishing conflicts between local fishermen and shipping trawlers, and washed-up dead whales along the shoreline.
According to the GEA, they recognized that these events have caused grave concern and distress which requires immediate attention to protect the health and well-being of communities and the environment.
The report stated that the outbreaks of avian influenza, overfishing conflicts, bycatch disaster, and washed-up dead whales are significant environmental issues in the country that require immediate action.
The report further revealed that the fisheries sector supports over 200,000 people and contributes significantly to the country’s economy and that it is crucial to address these issues promptly to protect the health and well-being of the communities and the environment.
GEA indicated in the report that the recent outbreak of avian influenza has raised serious concerns about the potential health risks to the community and that according to WHO avian influenza is a highly infectious disease caused by the influenza A virus which can cause severe respiratory illness and in some cases lead to death.
The report also recommended that the government implement a surveillance system to monitor the spread of the disease, providing education and training to the community about the risks of the virus and how to prevent it from spreading.
On the issues of overfishing and conflict between local communities and trawlers, the GEA recommended the implementation of regulations and policies that ensure sustainable fishing practices, including the use of selective fishing gear and limiting fishing in areas where endangered species are known to inhabit.
The report also highlighted the recent occurrences of bycatch disasters and washed-up whale deaths along the shoreline as significant environmental concerns.
To prevent bycatch Gambia Environmental Alliance recommended the implementation of regulations and policies that requires fishing vessels to use selective fishing gear to minimize bycatch, and establish a system to monitor and report on bycatch incidents to identify areas and species that are most vulnerable.
The report urged the National Assembly to take decisive action to address these issues and work with the government and other stakeholders to develop and implement effective strategies to address these challenges and also recommended the government engage in partnerships with Gambia Environmental Alliance as an independent body.