The Minister of Fisheries James F Gomez told Legislators that a total number of 411 Gambians have been employed as deck-hands on fishing vessels in Gambian waters in the year 2018.
The Fisheries Minister made this disclosure while responding to a question raised by Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda who required for the Minister to indicate the number of Gambians employed in the sector and which area of the sector employed the largest number.
Fisheries Minister Gomez added a total of 155 Gambians have been employed as observers; that this number excludes young Gambians (male and female) employed in fish processing establishments.
"I wish to inform the honorable member that the artisanal fisheries sub-sector is the largest employer of Gambians," he said.
He also said that the Ministry places high priority and attention in the rational and sustainable development of the Fisheries sector; that the sector has an important and potential role to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.
Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North Constituency asked the Minister if his Ministry has approved license for the operation of factories that transform fish into fishmeal and will the Ministry consider their immediate closure.
Minister Gomez in response to the Member for Banjul North Constituency said: "The Ministry has granted the approval to factories that transform fish into fishmeal and the Ministry is not considering the immediate closure of the said factories. This is because the scientific data from the yearly acoustic survey on pelagic resources such as Bonga and Sardinella in Gambian waters can accommodate the establishment of five fishmeal factories even though only three of such factories are in operation".
The Member for Sanimentereng Constituency Baba Galleh Jallow, also asked whether the Ministry has plans to engage the country's youth in the fishing sector.
In his response to the Member's question, the Minister confirmed that there is a mechanism in place to engage Gambian youth in the fisheries sector as fishermen, fish processors and in acqua-culture. This, he said, will be accompanied by capacity building including the formation and strengthening of the organizational capacities of fishery organizations. In a supplementary question, the Member for Jimara Constituency Alagie H. Sowe asked: "Has any fishing agreement been signed between The Gambia and China?"
The Minister in his response to the Member said there is no bilateral fishing agreement between the Republic of The Gambia and China.