The impact of climate change on the fisheries sector— one of the largest food providers in The Gambia, Senegal and Serra Leone—have affected their attainability of United Nations Millennium Development Goal on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.
These were the words of Perpetua Katepa Kalala, the resident representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nation, at the terminal workshop of the sub-regional Technical Cooperation Programme at the Paradise Suite Hotel yesterday.
“Fish-based livelihoods and fisheries ecosystem are subject to a range of climate variability; from extreme weather events including flooding and occurrence of droughts through to changes in patterns and abundance of fish stocks… In fishing communities in The Gambia, Serra Leone and Senegal, there is reduction in fishing stocks which have been attributed to climate change, overexploitation and poor utilisation and management of the fish fisheries resources,” she said.
“Reduction in fish stocks is impacting negatively on the livelihood of the population in these countries for whom the fisheries sector is a source of food, income and employment… This is hampering efforts being made to attaining the MDGs in these countries.”
This is a confirmation of an in-depth report recently done by The Standard which cast a light on the exposure at which the Gambian marine resources, especially the pelagic fish that are said to have made 70% of the country’s landing, are at ocean acidification which is also caused by pollution as a result of CO2 emission into the atmosphere.
In The Gambia, the fishery sector which is the third largest food provider after agriculture and livestock employs an estimated 200,000 people, directly and indirectly, but has experienced a steady and rapid decline in the catches of fish, a worrying trend that, apparently, threatens the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.
Kalala revealed that the aim of the 2-year TCP project which entered its completion was to address climate change issues that threaten the artisanal fisheries sector in the targeted countries and thereby sustain and improve the livelihoods, build capacities of various stakeholders to better understand climate change issues and support its mainstreaming into fisheries development plans, policies and strategies, and reduce the vulnerability of the communities to the impact of climate change and document lessons learnt and experience gained…
Also commenting on the effect of climate change on marine resources in the country was Abdoulie T.B. Jarra, the permanent secretary at the ministry of fisheries, and he said the three countries experiences similar trend in terms of climate change’s impact of their marine resources.
“The fisheries sector in West Africa is known to be highly sensitive to the effects of climate change. Production among the fishing communities in The Gambia, Serra Leone and Senegal, have witnessed a reduction in fish stocks, which have been attributed to climate change…,”
“These targeted countries are typical examples in West Africa with significant contributions to the fisheries sector in terms of socio-economic development and poverty reduction..”
Dr Muhammed Kebba, the interim executive director of the West Africa Rural Foundation, called for governments to put in place “options and operational mechanisms for addressing climate change” thus enhancing the livelihoods of “millions of Africans”.
Meanwhile, in a separate engagement, the officials from the FAO and the ministry of fisheries, have signed another TCP project on the development of artisanal fisheries in The Gambia.
The FAO boss Kalala and Lamin Nyabally, the minister of fisheries, penned the 16-million dalasi project document at the fisheries ministry yesterday.
The funding and the technical support throughout the implementation of the 2-year project were provided by the FAO.
According to Kalala, the project is going to provide 10 fishing boats and gears for at least two fishing communities in the country.
Minister Nyaballly who commended the FOA for the support said the Government will do “everything to ensuring that the project produces its desired result”.