By Oladapo Udom
Curbing national security threats such as Illegal Unreported Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) in the maritime domain will improve food security, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla said on Thursday in Lagos.
Ogalla made the declaration at the handover of six Glass Reinforced Plastic Riverine Boats manufactured for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by the Naval Dockyard Ltd.
Ogalla said the boats would be used to access riverine communities to monitor and support agricultural activities and ensure food security.
“This occasion is particularly special as it connotes several landmark moments that exists between the Nigerian Navy and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
“The relationship between both government institutions is based on mutual interests and shared values that date back in history.
“The production of the boats for the ministry demonstrates the existing collaboration and synergy between both institutions of government to promote food and environmental security,’’ he said.
He added that the boats were conceptualised, designed and built to suit the requirements of the ministry as well as the environment in which they are to operate.
“These boats are part of the first steps the Nigerian Navy has made towards indigenising ship construction and maintenance.
“The vessels are primarily tailored to effectively serve the ministry’s need in reaching coastal maritime communities and boosting agriculture and food production,’’ he said.
Ogalla added that the occasion was symbolic as it underscored the strength and importance of collaboration between government agencies.
“In this case, it is the Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture implementing policies and programmes of the central government to ensure overall prosperity of society.
“The collaborative relationship between the Navy and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture can be emulated; it enables agencies of government to work together seamlessly to enhance national security,’’ Ogalla stressed.
In his remarks, Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the boats would facilitate fisheries monitoring, surveillance, collection of and production of data and consequently aid the elimination of IUUF.
Sanwo-Olu was represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Gboyega Soyanwo.
He noted that IUUF was a major threat to the nation’s fisheries resource.
“These illegal activities do not only disrupt fish biodiversity in the state’s aquatic ecosystem, it also adversely affects the livelihood of more than 150,000 fisher-folks operating in 325 artisanal fishing communities.
“This subsector of fisheries currently contributes 177,459 tons of fish representing about 85 per cent of the annual fish production of Lagos State.
“The vessels received today will make it possible for us to actively monitor the waters and take swift action against those who seek to exploit our marine resources unlawfully,’’ he said.
He added that the boats would also facilitate the collection of fisheries data which are essential for planning, design, and implementation of appropriate interventions to develop artisanal fisheries in the state.
“These strategic efforts and other initiatives will contribute to substantial improvement in fish production within the state and set a remarkable precedent for others to follow.
“The patrol boats will undoubtedly bolster these endeavours, enabling us to achieve even greater milestones in the years ahead.
“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for its unwavering support and for recognising the importance of collaborative efforts to tackle IUUF.
“It is my firm belief that we can successfully combat IUUF, improve artisanal fisheries, positively impact coastal and estuarine communities and create a thriving and sustainable future for all,’’ he stressed.
He called on stakeholders in the subsector to reaffirm their collective commitment to the responsible management of fisheries resources and the protection of the environment for future generations.
“Lagos State with a population of more than 24 million people is faced with numerous challenges which cannot be left to the state government alone.
“I solicit more collaborative efforts from the Federal Government, the private sector and donor agencies to facilitate an inclusive development of the state,’’ he said.
In her remarks, Director, Special Duties at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Fausat Lawal expressed gratitude to the Navy for its commitment and dedication to protecting national marine resources.
She said the Navy’s diligent efforts had led to the arrest of numerous individuals involved in IUUF.
“As we take possession of these boats, we are strengthening our enforcement capabilities and also sending a clear message to those who engage in IUUF that their actions will not go unnoticed or unpunished.
“I express my appreciation to the skilled individuals involved in the construction of these boats.
“Their expertise and dedication has resulted in these vessels that are functional and built to withstand the challenges of Nigeria’s coastal environment,’’ she said.
The director said that the carrier boats would be distributed to four coastal states of Lagos, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
“Let us use this occasion as a catalyst for further collaboration, innovation and commitment to the sustainable management of our shared fisheries resources,’’ she admonished.
Also speaking, Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor said the patrol boats would provide security that would help to reduce poverty, enhance food security and enhance rural development.
Offor said Akwa Ibom would continue to work with the Nigerian Navy to improve the livelihood of people in riverine communities. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Alli Hakeem