Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, the flag bearer of the Citizens' Alliance (CA) party has called on the Gambia Government to put a stop to what he called the "over-exploitation' of the country's marine resources and manage them properly.
"There is over-exploitation of our marine resources. There is ample evidence - research showing that there is a great decline in catches in the fisheries sector," Ceesay said, at his party's monthly press conference held on Friday, 19th February 2021 in Kanifing.
Dr. Ceesay said the over-exploitation is affecting the earning of fishermen and traders in the fisheries sector, while citing that a research done by FAO revealed that fish stock in The Gambia is over-exploited.
He said the former regime put a ban on industrial fishing in 2015 but after the change of regime in 2016, the government began giving license, saying the Government has issued 73 licenses to trawlers in 2018.
Dr. Ceesay detailed that in 2018 and 2019, the Government signed some fisheries agreement with some "foreign powers" including the reciprocal fishing agreement with Senegal allowing 15 industrial fishing vessels and at least 200 artisanal fishing canoes to fish in The Gambia and another agreement with the European Union for their vessels to catch 3300 tuna and tuna-liked species and 350 tonnes of hake per year for six years.
"This is really sad," he said.
The Gambian politician said the country lacks the requisite equipment to monitor the activities of fishing vessels which is why illegal fishing has been a problem in the country. He said the fishmeal factories in Kombo South District are creating havoc in the fisheries industry.
"Research has shown these Fishmeal Factories are major drivers of over fishing and illegal fishing in Gambia's territorial water," he said.
Ceesay urged the Government to look into the activities of fishmeal factories, saying industrial fishing vessels sometimes fish within 9 nautical miles of the country's territorial waters contrary to what the laws provide.
"That is only reserved for small artisanal boats, but they now encroach into the 9 nautical miles destroying our environment," he said.