In a bid strengthen the aquaculture sector, stakeholders in the sub sector have harped on the need to bridge the gaps in the sector to foster international acceptance of locally grown fish.
The stakeholders said this at the ongoing Norwegian Seafood Council capacity training for fishery officers and stakeholders in Lagos.
The Norwegian Seafood Council Representative, Mrs. Abbey Cheke, focused on the importance of the training and capacity building to equip the sector for global acceptance.
Cheke said that the training for Nigerian fishery officers and stakeholders would strengthen the sector in line with global standards.
“The training and capacity building for Nigerian fishery officers and stakeholders is the Norwegian government’s way of bridging the gap in the Nigerian aquaculture sector.
“By God’s grace today, the Norwegian Seafood Council and her government have put together capacity building and training workshop for the aquaculture sector in Nigeria.
“Everybody actively involved in catfish and tilapia farming and export in Nigeria knows that there is a big gap.
She said that the big gap is that processed fish whether filleted fresh or smoked catfish or tilapia fish is not allowed to access European markets or any international market, adding that Nigerian fish is banned from entry into any international market because of certain logistics we do have in place.
According to her, “Norway is our best bet in getting experts to put us through in meeting international best practices when it comes to fish exports.”
She noted that Norwegian aquaculture is the most sustainable in the world.
“As of today, Norwegian aquaculture is the most sustainable in the world, as they continue to bag aquaculture and marine sustainability certificates in the last two years.
“We want the best for Nigerian aquaculture and its export hence the necessity of this training.
“If we get it right in Nigerian aquaculture sector, our fish will be accepted globally and removed from the ban list across international markets,” Cheke said.
The Director-General, Department of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Norway, Mr. Erling Rimestead, said the training and capacity building would foster the age long trade relationship between Nigeria and Norway.
“We hope the training will help to further develop the fishery industry in Nigeria.
“We want to help improve locally produced fish and make Nigeria a seafood producer globally.
“I hope the capacity building workshop will be fruitful and further strengthen the cooperation between Norway and Nigeria in seafood trade.
Also speaking, Mr. Samson Alatise, from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Development Finance Department, said the apex bank is ready to finance the fish sector to the next level.
“As far as CBN is concerned we are keen on financing agriculture and not only rice alone.
“Fish is one of the focal activities that CBN concentrates on and for now we have a ‘Fish Champion’, a committee, set up to finance fish farming in Nigeria.
“The problem we have with fish financing under our Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme is lack of a viable anchor to off take the fish from the farmers.
He disclosed that l.ack of a viable anchor is limiting the CBN’s participation in terms of fish farming financing.
“We hope with this capacity building and training workshop, the issue of getting viable anchors will be addressed to boost the aquaculture sector,” Alatise said.
The National Agency For Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) representative, Mr. Danjuma Haruna, said as a regulatory body, the agency is set to help the bridge gaps in local fish exports acceptance.
“It is a great honour to be here among our esteemed stakeholders to witness the capacity building of stakeholders involved in fish farming, processing and exports.
“NAFDAC is statutorily mandated to safeguard the health of the nation and this can only be achieved when the right quality and safe inputs are used in fish farming and processing
“The agency wishes to inform participants at the training that NAFDAC play a crucial role in the regulation of inputs such as fish feeds, preservatives and additives used in fish farming, processing and exports.
He said that the agency has put in place regulatory measures such as the issuance of work permit for the importation of these additives, laboratory culture and inspection and enforcement.
He commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for organising this training, while looking forward to further collaboration to ensure safe and quality fish and fish product for local consumption and exports.
The Superintendent of Customs, UG Mustapha, Apapa Customs Command, also reiterated the Customs readiness to put intending fish exporters and importers on the statutory guidelines for international trade.
“We are proud to be associated with this training and capacity building for fisheries officers and stakeholders in the aquaculture sector.
“We are committed to provide seamless guidelines to import and export procedures and the facilitation of fish trade and exports in Nigeria.
“We will enlighten the participants on customs procedures on export and import of fish products in Nigeria,” Mustapha said.