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Wednesday, 23 March 2011 13:19

The Industrial Fishing Sector

By Amadou Jallow

GAMBIA, March 23, 2011 (Buziness Africa) - Industrial fishing operations began in The Gambia in 1968, with the establishment of the Atlantic Marine Products Company, a then British fishing company.

There have been lots of industrial fishing activities in Gambian waters, with vessels coming in through the Reciprocal Fishing Agreement between the Republic of Senegal and The Gambia, as well as the Fisheries Access Agreement with the European Union through Joint Ventures with Gambia.


Presently, there are several locally registered companies with land-based processing facilities in the country. Of these, some have factory vessels with several so-called briefcase companies operating as industrial fishing companies. Out of these companies with land-based facilities, only few operate fishing vessels.


There has been evidence of the closure of several industrial fishing companies and fish factories. Indications are that there are fish processing factories currently operating at relatively low health and average product quality standard.


Furthermore, information revealed that full benefits of the reciprocal fishing agreement with Senegal were yet to be realised, as the Gambian fishing vessels operating under this agreement are still landing their fish catches in foreign ports and revenues from the exports of these fish catches are not reflected in Gambian economy.


It is however unfortunate that the policies of the Fisheries Department, which accelerated the development of the artisaal fisheries sub-sector from 1983-1993 could not transform The Gambia's fisheries into industrial fisheries beacuse of some physical, technical and economic constraints. Social and institutional obstacles are also hindering the fisheries sector.


Trends in fish supply


Marine and River fisheries are the two main distinct sources of fresh fish supply in The Gambia and to some extent, imported processed fish products. The industrial catches have remained around 8, 500 tones per year since 1992, following a pronounced decline in catches from a level of 23,000 tones. This happened because of the cessation of a fishing company that targeted small pelagic stocks and a reduction in the number of licensed fishing vessels.


Since the industrial fishing sector is mainly dominated by foreign industrial vessels, practically all the output of industrial fishing lands at ports of foreign countries. Artisanal fishing of The Gambia provides about 90% of the domestic fish supply and employs the majority of Gambians in the fishing industry. Artisanal fishermen use the small fishing craft that consists of a fleet of about 2,000 canoes, which operate in marine and river fishing areas. The estimated average of the artisan catches in fish between 1997 and 2003 was 29,000 tones per year.


During some periods of the year, about 200 people operate in Kemoto with catches mainly in Shrimps and Bobo Croakers. About two tones of shrimps and fish land daily at the centre. The shrimps and fish caught are transported without ice to Kerewan by river transport, which takes about two hours from where they are transported to Barra and Banjul to be sold to fishing companies.


This practice is due to lack of adequate availability of ice or insulating containers at the centre and it's surroundings. Nowadays, however, we have been witnessing fast growing improvements in the country's fisheries sector, with the development and construction of sophisticated fish storage facilities like that the Brikama fish market. (END/2011)





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