- Reps Seek Ban on Importation of Fish
The House of Representatives on Wednesday sought a phased ban on the importation of fish into the country in a bid to boost local production of fish.
It also said such a ban would encourage local fish farmers to support the Federal Government’s economic diversification policy.
Lawmakers passed the resolution after debating a motion moved by Mr. Tasir Olawale-Raji.
The session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, also observed that unrestricted importation had turned Nigeria to a dumping ground for all manner of fish, some of which were not good for human consumption.
The full details of the motion read, “The House notes that the diversification of the economy away from crude oil through key sectors such as agriculture, remains pivotal to the realisation of the economic recovery and growth plan of the present administration.
“The House also notes that the fisheries sub-sector, which is a vital component of Nigeria’s agriculture and the national economy, accounting for about four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, has remained largely under-developed, despite having the potential to provide cheap sources of protein, income, employment and foreign exchange.
“The House is aware that the local production from artisanal fishing, aqua culture and industrial captures estimated at about 800,000 metric tonnes, accounts for only 30 per cent of the total annual fish demand estimated at 2.7million metric tonnes.
“Also aware that Nigeria has, over the years, resorted to importation to meet the deficit of about 1.9 million metric tonnes in domestic fish supply at an estimated cost of $625m in foreign exchange annually.
“The House further notes that the escalating demand for foreign exchange for fish importation is not sustainable in the light of the huge pressure on the country’s foreign reserves and fluctuating earnings from crude oil.
“Concerned that Nigeria has now become a dumping ground for all manners of frozen fish, most of which are unwholesome in quality and highly detrimental to the health of consumers.
“Cognisant that with the abundant marine and inland fisheries resources comprising 923,768 kms land area, 47,934 kms continental shelf, 853 kms of coastline, network of rivers, flood plain, natural and man-made lakes, Nigeria has all it takes to become self-sufficient in fish production and also become a major hub of fish exportation in the West African Sub-region.
“The House is convinced that the Federal Government needs to vigorously pursue the goal of self-sufficiency in fish production so as to ensure food security and reserve for export.”
The resolution specifically directed the House Committees on Agricultural Production and Services/Water Resources to meet with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Customs Service to “develop a policy framework for the implementation of a phased ban on the importation of fish and fish products so as to create an enabling environment for increased private sector investments in the fisheries sub-sector.”
In a separate resolution, the House also called on the government to put measures in place to ensure the full utilisation of the Ikorodu Light Terminal.
A member from Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Benson, who moved a motion on the state of the terminal, told the House that it had remained under-utilised for many years, resulting in job losses.
Benson argued that putting the terminal to proper use would make it become another export gateway for the country.
The motion was passed in a unanimous voice vote by lawmakers.