World Fisheries Day is celebrated every November 21, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a growing recognition of the crucial role that international fisheries play in shaping the nation’s agricultural sector. As a country endowed with abundant aquatic resources, the significance of global fisheries extends beyond national borders, contributing to economic development, food security, and environmental sustainability.
International fisheries provide a substantial economic boost to Nigeria through exports of fish and seafood products. The demand for Nigerian fish in international markets not only generates foreign exchange but also creates employment opportunities along the value chain, supporting local economies and livelihoods. Beyond that, the influx of diverse fish species from international waters contributes to the nutritional diversity of diets in Nigeria. As a protein-rich food source, fish plays a vital role in addressing malnutrition and promoting overall health, especially in communities where access to alternative protein sources may be limited.
While the benefits of fish are evident, challenges such as overfishing, illegal fishing, oil spillage, and climate change pose threats to the sustainability of international fisheries. Therefore, Nigeria must actively engage in international dialogues and partnerships to address these challenges, leveraging shared knowledge and resources to promote responsible fishing practices. For instance; the Niger Delta area, has been popular in the news for environmental degradation resulting from oil spills, pollution, frequent oil spills, continuous gas-flaring, and improper disposal of toxic waste, which endangers aquatic life. To maximise the positive impact of international fisheries, Nigeria should focus on implementing strategic policy measures.
This includes investing in modernised fishing fleets, strengthening regulatory frameworks, and fostering international collaborations to monitor and combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. According to ‘the Rise for Bayelsa campaign’, 40 million litres of oil are spilled every year across the Niger Delta, where Nigeria sources most of its crude oil. One key aspect of the environmental justice conversation is the empowerment of local fishing communities. These communities, often marginalised and vulnerable, bear the brunt of environmental degradation by encouraging initiatives that prioritise their inclusion in decision-making processes and provide access to alternative livelihoods can contribute to both environmental sustainability and social.
As the world reflects on the International Fisheries Day, Nigeria stands at a crucial juncture by balancing the needs of a growing population with the imperative to protect marine ecosystems requires a concerted effort from government bodies, environmental organisations, and local communities. It is an opportunity to reevaluate policies, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, and embrace sustainable practices that will safeguard Nigeria’s fisheries for generations to come. In the pursuit of environmental justice, the International Fisheries Day serves as a rallying point for all stakeholders to join hands and chart a course towards a more sustainable and equitable future for Nigeria’s fisheries.
In conclusion, the significance of international fisheries for Nigeria cannot be overstated. Beyond economic contributions, it is a dynamic force that influences the nation’s food security, nutritional well-being, and environmental sustainability. As Nigeria navigates the challenges and opportunities of the global fisheries landscape, strategic engagement and cooperation on the international stage will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the country’s fisheries sector.