Banks Should Back Fisheries Sector

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK In an effort to prevent the constant starvation and malnourishment of the millions in Africa, Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Dr Abraham Iyambo, has appealed to financial institutions to start funding fish farming and aquaculture projects. “We are running against the clock and we cannot afford too much talk and no action,” he said when addressing the start of a three-day ‘Southern Africa Fisheries and Aquaculture Conference: Development and Management’, in Windhoek yesterday. Due to the lack of funding in this sector, Africa is still being classified today as “beggars of food” from other countries, instead of making use of the available fish resources in its own countries. “It pains me at heart that despite Africa’s endowment to produce food, we seem to be condemned to a class of perpetual food beggars,” said the fisheries minister who felt this is a sad trend. At the same time it turns out that low-value fish is being discarded while people are in dire need of animal protein, vitamins and minerals. “We need to feed human beings and thus strengthen them against the scourge of ill health,” said Iyambo, who noted that immense capital, training and research are still needed to ensure food security in Namibia and Africa as a whole. In light of this he called upon the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank (ADB) and all other financial institutions and developed nations to provide grants to enable Third World countries to develop aquaculture and produce fish as a source of food, especially for densely populated rural areas. Officially opening the fisheries conference, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said aquaculture is now being considered to be the growth industry in the 21st century around the world. Increasingly, much of the growth in the value of the international fish trade has come from aquaculture production. Thus, Pohamba was of the opinion that there is tremendous growth in this sector as opportunities in fish farming development and aquaculture investment also promise food security and economic prosperity. “Within the realm of aquaculture we are no longer limited by fishing access rights and fish stock sizes of wild captured fish. Gone are the days when we have to rely on oceans and rivers as sources of seafood and associated revenue from fisheries,” he said. Investment in fish farming promises increased stability of production, product supply and greater quality control, stated the Head of State. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) half of the value of fish exports come from developing countries. Furthermore, the developed countries import approximately 80 percent of traded fish products if measured by value. Therefore, market access is a very important factor for many developing countries. In Namibia, the fisheries sector supports an estimated 16 000 jobs, contributing immensely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounting for about 28 percent of exports. At the same time the President urged the over 70 participants to come up with tangible outcomes on how best Africa can sharpen its skills and knowledge on efficient fisheries and aquaculture development. The fisheries and aquaculture conference which ends on Thursday brings together experts and scientists not only from Iceland, but also the FAO, and foreign scientists and business people from several African countries. Topics on the agenda this week are focussed on the management and development of all scientific issues with regard to fisheries and aquaculture, how Southern Africa can develop these crucial sectors sustainably as well as look into the aspects of training and financing. The event is sponsored the Icelandic International Development Agency and the United Nations University.