By Binta Jaiteh
The report of the National Assembly Select Committee on Environment Sustainable Development and NGOs Affairs’ visit the Fish Landing Sites across the Country has recommended a comprehensive review of the Gambia-Senegal Fishing Agreement, full and strict implementation of fisheries regulations and acts.
Based on the findings of the Committee, they further recommended that Government should regulate the operational activities of all foreign fishermen and fishing vessels in the country.
During the presentation, Honorable Essa J Conteh Lawmaker for Jimara and Vice-chairperson of the committee noted that there should be a law that will govern all fish-landing sites; ranging from operations, materials used, and other structures associated with it, strict measures to be put in place to stop the usage of the small fishing nets.
According to him, there should be designated reserved areas for fish breeding, these areas should only be opened seasonally, specifically identified dumping sites for all the fishing areas, and storage facilities should be provided across all fishing-landing sites across the country.
More so, he said, availability of safety equipment and protective gear for the fisheries officials and rescue teams at the sites that patrol boats be available to the Navy to ensure regular patrols.
He added that with regards to Banjul Fishing Jetty and Landing site at the Banjul Fishing Jetty and Landing Site, the committee had a discussion with the Director and they found out that most of the fishing trawlers at the landing site are owned by foreign fishermen but operating with licence owned by Gambians.
Furthermore, it was observed that despite the creation of an office for inspectors, there was no inspector on the site during the offloading of fish by some vessels.
In terms of the challenges, Chinese fishing vessels not landing at the designated site and therefore pose threats to smaller vessels causing heavy waves during navigation.
He stressed that the Committee was informed that the movements of these vessels also pose threats to the lives of oyster harvesters in smaller creeks and estuaries.
Noting that these vessels are only meant to navigate in the high seas, meanwhile, illegal fishing (by all fishermen) through the use of unauthorized nets leads to the catching of juvenile fish and the wooden Wharf at the site is in a bad condition there are unused boats obstructing the movement and landing of vessels.
Honorable Conteh outlined that Tanji Fishing Centre is located in the coastal fishing town of Tanji, in Kombo South 33km from Banjul. This landing site has over the years played a crucial role in the economy of the country.
However, the general condition of all the landing sites visited happened to be that landing sites visited do not have proper landing platforms or wharves and most do not have fisheries. While they concluded that Parliamentary oversight everywhere is crucial in the efficient and effective governance of the fishing and aquatic sector.