By Stephen Ubanna
Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency,NIMASA, has solicited the support of Mahmood Abubakar, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development ‘’to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated, IUU, fishing activities in Nigerian waters’’. Jamoh made his feelings known at the recent signing of the Partnership agreement between the two parties in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, who could not hide his feelings had described IUU as threats ‘‘to source of livelihood of legitimate fishing investors’’. He also decried the exposure of the marine environment to avoidable pollution through such unlawful activities, pleading for ministerial intervention to stop such illegal activities.
The NIMASA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that that despite fighting piracy, sea robbery, oil theft and other maritime vices, the Deep Blue project which currently enjoys full support of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, also aims at ‘’preventing unlawful commercial activities like ‘’illegal , unreported and unregulated fishing in our waters’’.
He noted that the agency’s eyes are also focused on ‘‘preventing marine pollution which threatens aquatic life and jobs of trawler operators’’ who have the requisite permits from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ‘‘to embark on commercial fishing’’.
This may have informed why he has sought a closer working relationship with the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,under the close watch of Hon. Abubakar. Already, he has urged the minister ‘to ‘‘key into the Deep Blue project considering the array of benefits it holds for agricultural investors in the marine environment’’. This is Project as all the maritime security assets required to put illegal fishing activities in Nigerian maritime domain. The Katsina born Nigerian President had engaged the services of the Israeli security firm, HLSI systems and Technologies Limited at the cost of 195million for supply of both sea and air assets. The Israeli security firm was said to have delivered 16 armoured vehicles for Coastal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, two Special Mission Vessels, two Special Mission aircrafts and fourArmoured marine vehicles.
The NIMASA boss, had said that the partnership the agency and the ministry became imperative considering ‘‘the supervisory role being played by it on fishing activities in Nigerian maritime domain.Going down the memory lane, he disclosed that the country have been experiencing illegal fishing activities in its waters over the years’’, noting that and the ministry had been assigned with the responsibility of ‘‘issuing certificates of approval to conduct fishing especially in commercial quantity’’ and which it had discharged responsibly.
It is not surprising why the agency has resolved ‘‘to collaborate, cooperate, coordinate and communicate with the ministry in terms of checkmating ‘‘the legality and illegality of fishing in in the country’s maritime domain by the international community’’.
As a prelude to ensuring that ‘’illegal ,unreported and unregulated fishing activities stop in Nigerian waters, Hon. Abubakar, the minister of Agriculture, according to informed sources was said to have assured Jamoh and his Management Team, of theministry’s of support to ensure that the situation is put under control.
Expressing his readiness to work with NIMASA, the minister had that said with the Department of Fisheries and the Quarantine Agency, the ministry is very much ready, to put together a formidable team that would work with the Deep Blue project. He may have gladdened the heart of the NIMASA helmsman when he disclosed that the ministry have ‘‘the capacity of experienced staff that can participate and bring additional push to Deep Blue the project’’.
The minister may have shocked Nigerians when he confirmed that officials of the ministry were aware of some of the issues concerning illegal fishing, stressing that they are doing something about it. ‘‘I can assure you that we will get that put together soon”, the minister had assured the NIMASA Director General.
Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director , and acting Head, of the agency’s Public Relations Department had said that under the Deep Blue project, whose maritime security assets were commissioned by the Nigerian President earlier in the year, ‘‘the nation’s waters are expected to be protected from degradation due to pollution, exploitation and illegal fishing by unlicensed local and foreign operators.