Analysts have called on the Federal Government to improve investment in the fishing industry to reduce fish imports.
Speaking during a television programme in Lagos on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer of Ships and Ports, Dr Bolaji Akinola, urged the government to take concrete and deliberate measures to unlock the abundant economic potential in the country’s marine and blue economy, in order to actualise the billion-dollar revenues anticipated from the sector.
He affirmed that the desire of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to harness the potential of the maritime sector be a big challenge if deliberate efforts were not made to expand key segments of the sector for the greater economic benefit of the country.
Akinola explained that Nigeria is blessed with an extensive coastline along the Coast of Guinea that boosts abundant marine resources with immense potential for its economic growth and development.
“There is a need for an alignment of purpose. Take for instance, the fishing aspect because these are the low-hanging fruits: the coastal trades, international trades, and even the fish trawling industry. We also need to look at that and how we now ensure that we get more Nigerian fishing trawlers into this business so that we can stem capital flight and retain value locally here,” he said.
The veteran journalist bemoaned the negligible participation of Nigeria in inland and coastal shipping.
He stressed the need to rectify the trade imbalances and foster economic development.
He noted, “Nigeria loses a lot of money from international trade, the movement of crude oil out of the country, the importation of petroleum products into this country and the importation of many other goods into the country, on the average, I think about 5000 vessels from statistics coming to Nigeria, none of these vessels, not one belonging to a Nigerian.
“So, imagine if we had a strategic plan of these 5,000 vessels that are trading in our country, we are going to ensure that within the lifespan of this administration, we will ensure that Nigerians can do 10 per cent,” he said.
Akinola called for huge investment in port infrastructure, streamlining of regulatory processes, and improving operational efficiencies.
He said such measures would enable Nigeria to revitalise its inland and coastal shipping sector, reduce trade imbalances, and promote inclusive economic growth.
Also, the founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Lucky Amiwero, said, “The sector is part of the blue economy, so what he is saying is correct.
“What he is saying is correct; it is one of the cores of the blue economy. The fishing sector contributes immensely to the growth of the nation. Not only in the fishing sector; there are so many in the marine sector.”