UN News Service (New York) July 14, 2004
In an effort to boost responsible commercial fishing as an important
source of income and food for developing countries, the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced a new
project to promote the industry in Gabon, a fish-rich West African
country that now has to import to meet its own needs.
With $270,000 in FAO support, Gabonese fishery officials will
streamline procedures to assess and monitor Gabon's fishery resources
and create a national strategy to promote the sector.
"We hope this new project will help Gabon build up its fishing sector
in a sustainable manner, adding jobs to the local economy and
increasing the supply of marine fish also on the local market," said
Ulf Wijkström, Chief of FAO's Fisheries Development Planning Service,
which will help oversee the project.
The agency noted that recent figures show that net revenues from fish
trade (exports minus imports) by developing countries have reached
$17.7 billion - a sum larger than that earned from their exports of
tea, rice, cocoa and coffee combined.
In Gabon, small-scale artisanal fishing provides many with income and
food, but most modern commercial fishing is conducted by foreign
vessels. Just 10 to 20 per cent of the crews on those ships are
Gabonese, and due to poor port infrastructure most vessels offload
their catches in other countries, meaning jobs lost in related
sectors like fish processing.
At the same time, Gabon's yearly fish production, estimated at
between 40,000 and 50,000 tons, falls short of national demand. Each
year the country imports over 7,000 tons of fish products, FAO said.
A main barrier to developing Gabon's fishing industry has been the
difficulty of maintaining a focused development strategy.
The new project will strengthen the monitoring, assessing and
reporting on fish stocks; suggest ways to create fish-processing
centres and related industries to boost earnings in national and
international markets; analyze service and infrastructure gaps in
Gabon's ports with an eye to upgrading them; and develop strategies
for attracting investors to Gabon's fishing sector.