By Gabriel Okoro, Abuja
The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to include the science of Aquaculture in the practice of Agriculture to govern the fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The House resolved that the call is to majorly formulate plans, strategies, policies and programmes for fisheries development, to guide fisheries economic reform, to implement and monitor fisheries laws, regulations and international/bilateral fisheries agreements.
The decision followed a motion sponsored by Mr. Awaji-Inombek Abiante (PDP, Rivers) and two others during plenary on Wednesday.
In his lead debate, Mr. Abiante noted that agriculture is the main base of human life, as daily living directy or indirectly depends on control.
He expressed concern that Nigeria has failed to make transition from the additional definition of agriculture and as a result, not kept pace with the growth and transformation of the agriculture value chain to leverage on the many opportunities inherent, particularly in Aquaculture.
He revealed that the volume of global trade in aquaculture value chain is in excess of 200 billion dollars and that fisheries departments in the top ten leading aquaculture countries have created exclusive entities for fisheries or autonomous Bureau of Fisheries in their respective Ministries.
According to him, Nigeria can set an ambitious goal of becoming a leading country in aquaculture; specifically in the productive development of its coastal marine environment by taking a more serious interest in the development of its aquaculture sector and providing equitable funding.
He therefore called for the need to provide incentives to the estimated one million indigenous artisan fishermen and small-scale fish farmers using old equipment and outdated practices and scale them up into diverse set of industrial fisheries practices using modern technologies for the growth and sustainability of aquaculture.
“With a coastline of more than 850 kilometers and numerous rivers, including West Africa’s two largest canals and tributaries, Nigeria has huge geographic potential for aquaculture”, he said.
The lawmaker added that Nigeria is blessed with a large resource base of waterways spanning 10,000 kilometers, and twenty-eight of the nation’s 36 States can be accessed through water, an ideal situation for large-scale fisheries development of diverse marine fish species.
Contributors to the motion’s debate all spoke in its favour. Mr. Oghene Egor (PDP, Lagos) said “if the federal government takes fishery sector seriously, hunger will be defeated in the country. The Agricultural sector of the country should be balanced not just the government providing seedlings and livestocks but fishery should be encouraged also”.
To this end, the Speaker Yakubu Dogara after putting to voice vote, mandated the Committees on Agricultural Production and Services and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back within 4 weeks for further legislative action.