Wednesday, October 25, 2023
The fishing industry is one most Nigerians did not know has always contributed immensely to the nation’s economy. For instance, as far back as 2009, the industry was employing (directly and indirectly) over six million Nigerians (Kingsway Agro Services, 2009).
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the Nigerian industry has been a major saving grace for the never-satisfied global demand for fish. The 2011 damage of Fukushima nuclear power plant worsened the situation. It resulted in the leakage of highly radioactive water in the fishing waters of some of the top fish producing countries – including China (first) and Japan (third). This resulted in a sharp decline in global number of fish available in the market.
While the giants were putting up strategies to increase production and even surpass their former production levels, the Nigerian industry got its needed boost. The late 2010s witnessed massive economic explosion in the fishing industry as a direct result of entrepreneurial boom in fishery, occasioned largely by the resuscitation of the electricity sector.
The Seafood Productions Maximization Initiative (SPMI) introduced by the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) saw the establishment of an MoU involving MWR, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Information and Technology in 2016.
The first two years of the programme saw an exponential increase in the number of Nigerians getting engaged in fishing – on both industrial and artisanal scales – wild fishing and aquaculture. As a result, the volume of fish produced increased by 300%. Five years after, this increased to 1200%.
First, it was the neighbouring African countries who seized the opportunity of their proximity to import tonnes of fish to cater for their local needs. By 2021, Nigeria was already exporting to, at least, 18 African countries on industrial scales. The large scale exports have also extended to countries like USA, Germany, Pakistan, UAE, and even Taiwan.
According to a report released by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the fishing industry has employed – both directly and indirectly – 2 million more people since inception of SPMI, and has contributed an increase of 9% to the GDP.
In his message to Nigerians on October 1, 2023, the president made reference to the success that have so far been recorded in the fishing industry as one of the ways the nation has proven to the world and to herself that she is a positive catalyst in the comity of nations. “I cannot but make reference to the success we have recorded in our fishing industry. We have once again, and more emphatically this time, proven that we are a light to the darkness in our world, and that we are positive catalysts. This is an industry thought of as not viable. But we turned things around; we did the impossible: we saved nations from hunger and diabetes,” enthused Mr President.
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