Milestones :  As Ministry of Marine-Blue Economy presents 2024 stakeholders’ engagement

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Milestones :  As Ministry of Marine-Blue Economy presents 2024 stakeholders’ engagement
..Focuses on activities in blue economy sector
… Achieves robust discussions with trawler owners


Photographs taken during the programme

It is indeed a great milestone for the Federal Ministry of Marine & Blue Economy, as it presented 2024 stakeholders’ engagement. The well thoughtout programme paved the way for robust discussions and exhaustive deliberations between the Ministry and maritime stakeholders who turned out in large number.

The Ministry, which came to Lagos to discuss with stakeholders, on how government policies can be effectively implemented to achieve the desired results, focused on enhanced activities in the blue economy sub-sector.

The programme, which took place in Eko Hotel and suites, on Tuesday May 14, 2024 began with discussions and contributions from various stakeholders operating in the Marine and Blue Economy sector of Nigeria.

In the morning session, the Minister of Marine & Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, represented by the Permanent Secretary, said the engagement becomes imperative to interact with relevant stakeholders, in order to come up with important inputs and fresh ideas that will enhance tangible growth in the industry, when implemented

Issues highlighted in the morning segment included maritime safety and security; vessel registration; capacity building for local companies to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts; creating enabling operating environment for businesses to thrive in the sector and provision of necessary infrastructure.

Also, some speakers called for the review of the Cabotage Act, saying there is urgent need to revisit the Act, in order to ensure proper and effective implementation.

The programme created ample opportunity for stakeholders to make useful contributions on how the industry can be rejuvenated for greater productivity.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dayo Mobereola, in his remarks assured that the Agency under his leadership will operate an open day policy. He pointed out; “Stakeholders are allowed to make contributions, and even write the Minister about their concerns, and such issues will be addressed appropriately”.

According to the NIMASA Boss, suggestions raised at the stakeholders’ engagement will be taken into cognisance, especially during policies implementation in the sector. He expressed great satisfaction about the successful hosting of stakeholders’ engagement in Lagos, saying the meeting provided a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas that are important to move the industry forward.

After the morning session, opportunity was given to trawler owners to interact with the Ministry on issues concerning the fishing sub-sector of the economy.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, in his remarks during interactive session, said the meeting aims at collectively charting the course of development of the sub-sector.

He said that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, remains highly committed to the development of the industry, which informed the creation of Ministry of Marine & Blue Economy.

He pointed out; “Fisheries now falls under this Ministry. Fisheries and aquaculture are major components of the marine economy. The Ministry recognises the importance of this sub-sector in economic growth and development. That contributed to why the sector is the first in this year’s stakeholders’ engagement.”

The Permanent Secretary also called for compliance with laws on ecosystem conservation, saying, “We need to foster innovative solutions and form partnerships with local companies to move the industry forward.”

Also speaking, the President of Fishing Trawlers Association of Nigeria, Ben Okonkwo, explained that before now, the fisheries sub-sector operated with about turnover of 100 million dollars annually, and their association had up to 250 trawlers, with over 100,000 workers across board.

According to him, few years later, their business went down due to incessant attacks by pirates, difficulties in accessing forex, high cost of diesel (AGO), among other challenges.

Issues raised by trawler owners during the interactive session include getting diesel (AGO) directly from NNPC, waivers for spare parts importation, getting grants from government to support the operators in the industry, as was done in the past, in building harbours space for exiting companies should be considered and government support for trawler owners.

In the same vein, the Director, Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, FDF&A, said the vision of the Ministry is to lead Nigeria to a prosperous future and contribute to global trade. To ensure self-sufficiency in fish production locally and get something for exports to generate foreign exchange, create employment for the citizens and wealth for the Nigerian nation.

He highlighted various initiatives and schemes put in place by government to develop the sub-sector, which included the Ministry taking delivery of six boats last year to enhance greater productivity in the industry.

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