Officials of the Oostende City Council in Belgium have stated that Belgium and other parts of Europe are potential markets for Gambian fish, but were quick to stress for standards to be observed in exporting them.
The officials - Johan Van De Steene, chief executive officer of Fish Auction FIJH Market in Oostende and Zeebrugge and Peter Vanslambrouck, the Oostende Banjul City Link coordinator - concluded a weeklong working visit to The Gambia as guests of the Banjul City Council (BCC).
Their Gambia visit was meant to advise the BCC on the rehabilitation of the Banjul Ice Plant both on the technical component of the machinery.
"Based on what we have seen in the country, The Gambia has lots of opportunities to export its fish to Oostende and the European Union market but the quality of what is to be exported need to be of standard," observed Johan Van De Steene, who also serves as the technical adviser on the rehabilitation of the Banjul Ice Plant. "Ostend would want The Gambia to export 'Tiger Shrimps', which is easily marketable to the African community in Belgium," he added.
As part of their efforts to acquaint themselves with what the country has, Steene said they have visited places like Tanji and other fishing landing sites, fish processing companies, the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government amongst others.
Noting that the Ice Plant is a priority for the Banjul mayor, he disclosed that the manager for the plant will be invited to Belgium to undertake a two-week training on the management of the facility.
The Banjul mayor, Abdoulie Bah, for his part, thanked their counterparts for their continuous show of commitment to the rehabilitation of the ice plant. The mayor seized the opportunity to thank President Jammeh and his government for the support given to them, recalling that the plant was handed over to the BCC on 12th May, 2014.
Bah assured of the Council's commitment to revamp the project soonest for the benefit of the city dwellers.
Peter Vanslambrouck, for his part, assured that rehabilitation of the ice plant will be completed before the end of this year.