The number of Nigerians engaged in primary and secondary fish production across the country is over 10 million, the Federal Government announced on Thursday.
In his address at the Internal Coordination Meeting among departments of the African Union Commission in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Mahmood, stated that despite this huge number of fish farmers, the country was still importing about 2.5 million tonnes of frozen fish annually.
He, however, pointed out that the fisheries and aquaculture subsector was very significant to the Nigerian economy in terms of employment creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and provision of raw materials for the animal feed industry. Mahmood said, “It is estimated that over 10 million Nigerians are actively engaged in primary and secondary fisheries operations, thus creating wealth for our people and we will be happy if they can benefit from this (fisheries and aquaculture) project.
“Nigeria’s total demand for fish is 3.6 million tonnes annually, while we are producing 1.1 million tonnes from all sources (artisanal, aquaculture and industrial sectors). This leaves a deficit of about 2.5 million tonnes that my ministry is working hard in collaboration with the private sector to supplement by way of import reduction through backward integration, and this is yielding positive results.”
Mahmood outlined the measures adopted by the Federal Government to boost the fisheries subsector to include the establishment of a Vessel Monitoring System in Lagos and Abuja to monitor and control illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing along with Nigeria continental shelf.