COASTAL PROTECTION IMPERATIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERY ECONOMY
A professor of fisheries and aquatic resources management, Anthony Nlewadim, has said that the protection of coastal communities and water bodies from effects of climate change and other anthropogenic sources of degradation are imperative to maintaining a stable and sustainable economy through fisheries. Aquaculture
Nlewadim of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, in Abia State, spoke while delivering the 39th inaugural lecture of the university, entitled, ‘Fishes and Fisheries: The Mysteries in the Waters’. He stated that the vulnerability of the country’s coastal wetlands to climate change consequently required greater attention to develop mitigation measures and create strategies to maintain a sustainable balance.
He listed some contributions of the fisheries sector, saying that the World Fish 2017 factsheet for Nigeria indicated that the total fish production per year was close to one million metric tonnes and made up of 313,231 tonnes from aquaculture and 759,828 tonnes from capture fisheries.
According to him, the majority of the fish is consumed domestically, while about 10% is exported, adding that about 1,477,651 people work as fishers in Nigeria (FAO, 2016 b) and that this number could be increased and sustained if better environmental laws and policies could be put in place.
This is “apart from being an income earner to many Nigerians, especially in coastal, riverine and lake areas of the country. Hence, some people earn their living from fish processing and marketing while others engage in fisheries research. “On the challenges to sustenance of the fisheries sector, he stated that the general observation showed that fisheries resources appeared to be on the decline in the country due to over exploitation and inadequate management of the inland waters.
For the sustainability of these resources, he suggested that an adequate knowledge of species composition, diversity and relative abundance of the fisheries resources of the water bodies should be understood. Underscoring the importance of fish in socio-economic development, the inaugural lecture stated that there was daunting challenge of feeding an expected global population of 9 billion people by 2050 and that effecting this engages researchers, technical experts and leaders.
“This is why greater investment is needed in the industry for new and safer technologies, their adaptation to local conditions and in appropriate settings,” he said. Towards sustaining management of fisheries, he recommended, among others, passing of a bill on Nigerian Fisheries Institute before the National Assembly as obtains in most developed nations of the world, enforcement of regulations on dangerous agricultural practices like use of banned and persistent pesticides, ban on obnoxious fishing practices, non-use of explosives and chemicals for fishing, minimization of several other anthropogenic activities that contribute to water pollution.