The Akwa Ibom Fisheries Association has raised alarm over the dire state of the fish farming industry, revealing that losses totaling over N100 billion have been incurred due to floods, soaring fish feed costs, and inadequate electricity supply. The association’s leadership issued a strong statement highlighting the sector’s perilous condition and warning that continued neglect could result in significant job losses.
In a statement released by Mr. Okon Amah, the President of the group, it was noted that even prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, fish farming had faced numerous challenges in Nigeria. These challenges included insecurity, erratic power supply, escalating costs of feed, and other vital farming inputs, all of which have led to the closure of numerous fish farms. Thousands of jobs are now at risk as the industry faces further decline.
Amah commented, “The pandemic made it worse and then came the flood, fish farmers lost over 100 billion naira to the ravaging flood. Yet we get nothing from the government to cushion the effects.”
He emphasized the vital role fish farming has played in providing employment opportunities. For instance, he highlighted the Uteh cluster in Benin, which alone boasts more than 800 fish farmers and a double number of workers, excluding indirect job opportunities within the region totaling around 4,000.
The President further expressed frustration with the rising production costs, particularly the price of fish feed. He stressed that the high demand for fish in Nigeria and beyond makes this situation worrisome.
Critically, the group pointed out that the recently released roadmap for food security at the United Nations Food Summit failed to include Aquaculture and fisheries. This omission raises concerns about the government’s commitment to an industry that generates significant revenue for other countries and contributes to the blue economy.
Similarly, Captain Oladele Robinson, the Executive Secretary of the Fisheries Cooperatives of Nigeria, echoed these concerns, underscoring that the fish farming and fishing sectors contribute to over five million direct jobs and an additional 15 million indirect jobs through the value chain.
Robinson lamented the absence of the sector in the Federal Government’s recently released Fishery agenda and criticized the Federal Department of Fisheries for not actively advocating for the sector’s interests.
The Akwa Ibom Fisheries Association’s passionate plea underscores the urgent need for attention and support to salvage the beleaguered fish farming industry, preserve jobs, and bolster the nation’s food security.