By: Modou Kanteh
The Department of Fisheries is galvanizing efforts to ensure that the fishing and the fisheries value chain in the Gambia is in line with an acceptable modern standard.
Against this backdrop, the department of fisheries convened three days training for stakeholders from 28th -30th October 2022, at NaNA conference hall, on proper fish handling, processing, preservation and distribution of techniques along the fisheries value chain.
According to fisheries officials, the objectives are to raise awareness and increase understanding on post-harvest losses, Improve technical knowledge and skills of fish business operators in fish handling and preservation for improved fresh fish marketing among other things.
It is estimated that about 200,000 people in the Gambia depend on artisanal fisheries for their livelihoods.
The Director of the Department of Fisheries, Anna-Mbenga-Cham, emphasises the great importance of the development of the sector due to its potential contribution to national socio-economic development and growth. She pointed out that the sector provides food, creates employment, generates revenue and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Directress Mbenga Cham, said the Gambia and the European Union (EU) signed a six year sustainable fisheries partnership agreement to strengthen cooperation in the development of sustainable fisheries, fight against illegal unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. She added that the partnership will promote the blue economy including value chain, aquaculture and support the development of the artisanal or small scale fisheries sector in the Gambia.
“The protocol to the agreement involves an annual financial contribution from the EU to the Gambia including a portion representing compensation for access of EU vessels to fish in the fisheries waters of The Gambia,” the director said.
Madam Mbenga-Cham said the state of hygiene at fish landing sites particularly in coastal communities and around fish processing sites leaves much to be desired. “Fish handling and sanitary conditions are inadequate and affect the safety and quality of products,” she said.
The accumulation of waste at processing sites is a sanitary problem. According to fishery officials, waste attracts and provides breeding grounds for insects with consequent infestation of products by these insects.
Due to limitations in quality and food safety standards and control, there is restricted access of products to make, especially the traditionally processed products from landing sites to export markets with strict requirements on food safety and quality. Fish spoilage due to poor handling and hygiene results in losses and reduced value of product.