The total contribution of fisheries to the Nigerian economy has been estimated at N126.417 billion gross output with a capitalization of N78.530 billion.
In addition, the total aquaculture investment and capital contribution in the country are put at N7 billion and N20 billion respectively.
Professor Olujimi Faturoti, Chairman, Council of Fellows, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, who disclosed this in Abuja, said fisheries contribute about $US1 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, adding that the demand for fish and investment in commercial fish farming in Nigeria is rapidly expanding at 25 to 33 percent per year.
He explained that, Artisanal Fisheries, that is Small scale fisheries, provides more than 82 percent of the domestic fish supply, giving livelihoods to one million fishermen and up to 5.8 million fisher folk in the secondary sector.
Faturoti said Investment in the sector amounts to N14 billion. While another estimate of N2.5 billion is assumed for institutional investments in jetties, canoe ramps, workshops among others.
“Total estimated capitalization is put at 16.5 billion. With these manpower and infrastructures, artisanal fish production system has a total landing of 504,000 MT at an average of N200, 000/ MT, would equal to NI00 Billion”, he said.
The FISON Council Chairman noted that “Aquaculture has been clearly demonstrated to be an economically viable, private enterprise in Nigeria, with some 2,642 fish farms inventoried and counting.
“85,000 MT of fish are produced in fish farms in Nigeria, making the country the largest aquaculture producer in Africa, but this production is negligible when compared to projected yields estimated at two million tons.
“Estimated 23,000 jobs could be created in this industry for fish handling and processing, production of some 45,000 tons in the next three years. This development will have significant economic impact doubling revenues from a $US 50 million to a $US 100 million a year industry. Records have shown 2,642 fish farms nationally worth about 3.3 Billion”, he said.
Prof. Faturoti, however, said there is need for Government to assist and attract investors into the Fisheries sector as well as support the effort of the society towards its charter for international best practice in the industry.
He also enjoined government to ensure that youths in the Niger Delta are empowered through adequate training in fisheries and related vocation. He said, “Government should give medium sized vessels to trainees from Niger Delta who traditionally is inclined to water and fisheries related ventures.”
Adding that, “On-going dredging of river Niger is bound to affect the fish habitat and fishermen just like oil exploitation have taken its toll on the livelihood of fisher folks.”
Therefore, Faturoti called for Special funds with investment from Government and oil companies to be instituted to remedy the pollution resulting from oil prospecting and producing activities.
He pledged the willingness of FISON to work with Government to provide necessary technical support to solve the various challenges relevant to the sector.
On her part, the National President, Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON), Foluke Areola said the briefing was borne out of the need to “draw Government and public attention to those areas of concern needing urgent attention in order to develop the immense potentials of the subsector.”
Areola said , “Some of these are legalizing the profession; increasing government allocation to fund fisheries development, fisheries research, capacity building through training, motivation of staff, review of some of the laws and regulations guiding the subsector to make it more competitive.”
She called for the actualization of the Abuja Declaration on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Development for Africa and the New Partnership for African Fisheries (NEPAD) Plan of Action.
The FISON President commending the efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in its fight against corruption, a trait she said is in line with fisheries practitioners’ transparency and responsibility to the environment and citizens; she reiterated the Society’s support as a reliable partner to the government in moving the fisheries subsector forward.