The Nigerian Navy on Thursday handed over some boats built by the Naval Dockyard Limited to Lagos and Akwa Ibom states to aid their fight against illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff said the boats will also help the state curb national security threats such as Illegal Unreported Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) in the maritime domain and will improve food security.
Admiral Ogalla spoke while handing over six Glass Reinforced Plastic Riverine Boats manufactured for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by the Naval Dockyard Ltd, Saying that the boats would be used to access riverine communities to monitor and support agricultural activities and ensure food security.
Admiral Ogalla said that 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, adding 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,’’ Admiral Ogalla pointed out.
He explained that the occasion was symbolic as it underscored the strength and importance of collaboration between government agencies.
His words: “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”
Earlier, the 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 who was represented by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Gboyega Soyanwo, noted that IUUF was a major threat to the nation’s fisheries resource.
He said: “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.