Cablegate: Gon Official Reports Slow Progress in Implementing

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

201026Z Dec 04





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: ABUJA 001861

1.(U) Summary. On December 14, Economic Officer and
Economic Specialist met with GON Director of Fisheries G.N.
Shimang. Their talks focused on whether Nigeria had made
sufficient progress in implementing U.S. turtle-excluder-
device (TED) regulations to warrant a visit by U.S.
compliance inspectors. These regulations are designed to
protect "innocent" marine species, while not jeopardizing
the viability of the commercial fishing industry. After
some discussion, Shimang said it would be premature for the
USG to send its inspectors to Nigeria. Economic Officer and
Economic Specialist agreed with Shimang's assessment. End

2.(U) On December 14, Economic Officer and Economic
Specialist met with GON Director of Fisheries G.N. Shimang.
Their talks focused on whether Nigeria has made sufficient
progress in implementing recent U.S. turtle-excluder-device
(TED) regulations to warrant a visit by U.S. compliance
inspectors. These TED regulations are designed to protect
"innocent" marine species, while not disproportionately
affecting the livelihood of commercial fishermen.

3.(U) Shimang disclosed that Nigeria has not implemented the
new TED regulations and does not know how effective they
might be. Nigeria has not done so because it lacks adequate
knowledge of the region's marine resources, specifically sea
turtles, to ascertain whether TEDs have had a positive or
negative effect on either commercial catches or "innocent"
marine life. Shimang explained that three things are
necessary for Nigeria to make significant progress in
complying with TED implementation: (1) a survey of the
nation's marine resources; (2) an analysis of the resulting
data to determine whether the GON's buying or operating a
marine patrol vessel is justified; and (3) the provision of
additional training to Nigerian industrial fishermen to
convince them of the need to comply with TED regulations.
Concerning the last point, Shimang said the best way to do
so would be through a "practical approach" demonstrating to
commercial fishermen that TEDs will not do them significant
economic harm.

4.(U) Shimang said Nigerian industrial fisherman lack data
on the presence of sea turtles and do not believe there is a
need to protect these creatures. Nigerian commercial
fishermen nonetheless agreed to comply with TED measures,
but intermittent GON inspections have found they do not
comply. In addition, Shimang noted that the government's
research institute, the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography
and Marine Research, does not possess a seaworthy vessel and
has not been able to carry out a scientific marine survey of
its own. The fisheries director also said he earlier
proposed that the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) survey the marine resources of the Gulf of Guinea,
but ECOWAS has not done so.

5. (SBU) TEDs in Nigeria "don't appear to be working,"
Shimang observed: Nigerian fishermen claim the use of TEDs -
- size unspecified -- results in trawlers' loss of up to 45
percent of large fish. In addition, while commercial
fishermen assert TEDs are not working and harm their
livelihood, many Nigerian fishing companies are offloading a
large percentage of their take at sea, then reporting low
catches. This, Shimang said, occurs because Nigerian
companies do not pay salaries either to fishing captains or
their crewmembers, both of whom finance themselves through
their catches. Shimang said Nigeria would be willing to
accept U.S. inspectors at landings of fish and at the
hanging of nets, but added that these inspectors should act
more as instructors than as monitors.

6. (SBU) Shimang reiterated that Nigerian fishermen must be
persuaded that it would be in their interest to employ TEDs.
Toward this end, he would like to choose three or four
leading Nigerian fishing companies to implement TEDs fully.
He predicted that if these companies were to implement TED
measures correctly and their fishing catches were not unduly
affected, this would convince other Nigerian fishing
companies to follow suit. But, Shimang noted, the GON's
Department of Fisheries does not have enough resources to
carry out training and education even within the department
itself. Evidence of this, he said, is that his department
has received no funding -- presumably, except for salaries -
- for the past three years, including for 2004.

7. (U) Shimang expects his department to receive 295
million naira (about USD 2.27 million) in 2005. About 150
million naira of this will be to buy a patrol boat, and the
remainder to improve Nigeria's three, government-owned
fishing terminals in Lagos, Opobo, and Warri where fishing
boats are outfitted and fish processed. He said the GON will
spend about 145 million naira (USD 1.1 million) in 2005 on
these terminals. Shimang added that the GON is seeking
private-sector management agents for the terminals; they
would pay an annual rental fee to the government and manage
the facilities for a profit. Shimang also said that the
government plans to privatize these terminals. Private
sector firms might hold 51 percent of the equity; the GON
and the state governments would share the remaining 49
percent. These fishing terminals, Shimang said, would have
to be in good operating condition before the federal
government could privatize them. This means, according to
Shimang, that the GON either would have to provide funds to
renovate the terminals, or investors would have to be
permitted to deduct the cost of necessary repairs from their
eventual purchase price. Shimang said the estimated cost in
2000 to repair the three terminals was 350 million naira
(USD 2.7 million) and that this figure might now be higher.

8. (U) Shimang also said the GON is prepared to build a
fourth fishing terminal to be owned similarly by private
investors, the federal government, and the state government
in Lagos next year. Nigeria needs another terminal in
Lagos, Shimang explained, because 80 percent of this year's
catch has been processed in Lagos. Shimang pointed out,
however, that this landing and processing of the nation's
fish catch could be moved away from Lagos if Nigeria were to
improve its road network. At present, he said, it takes
nine to 10 hours to transport fish by road from Lagos to
Abuja -- about 475 miles.

9. (SBU) Shimang said the most helpful training the USG
could offer Nigeria would be a curriculum on TEDs, which
then could be taught at the Nigerian Institute for
Oceanography and Marine Research. He said this course could
be updated every three months for personnel of Nigerian
trawlers, which are licensed by the GON minister of
transportation. Shimang also said he favors the USG's
providing an additional round of TED-implementation training
before the United States sends inspectors to Nigeria. He
proposed that the USG carry out TED-implementation
inspections in Nigeria once a year for five years, with
continued compliance training also taking place in Nigeria.
After hearing Shimang's exposition, the Economic Officer and
the Economic Specialist agreed with Shimang's assessment it
would be premature for the USG to send its inspectors to
Nigeria in the near future.

10. (SBU) During these talks, Shimang was not specific about
the progress Nigeria is making in updating its legislation
to reflect the new U.S. legislation requiring the adoption
of larger, 71-inch TEDs or double-cover escape openings. In
a follow-up conversation, Shimang said that related Nigerian
laws are winding their way through the National Assembly's
legislative process. Because Nigeria also needs legal
instruments with which to prosecute TED offenders, the GON
has not yet prosecuted anyone for TED violations. Shimang
professed confidence that Nigeria will adopt TED legislation
in 2005, but was not willing to predict how soon this
legislation might be passed.

11. (SBU) Begin comment. Fisheries Director Shimang appears
to be sincere in his desire that the Nigerian fishery
industry comply with U.S. TED regulations. He has been
handicapped in his efforts by a lack of GON funding, as well
as by a lack of GON bureaucratic capability and follow-
through. Shimang, whose office and department are located
in Abuja, suffers from his department's Fisheries Resources
Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance Unit being located in

12. (SBU) Comment, continued. The GON appears to have lost
its momentum in moving toward compliance with U.S. TED
regulations since November 2003 when the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided wide-
ranging training in Nigeria to the GON Department of
Fisheries as well as to Nigerian fishing firms. NOAA then
provided this training to industry representatives and
fishermen, and its efforts included classroom sessions and
on-board TED inspection training for a group of TED
inspectors. Nigeria likely will make no significant
progress toward TED compliance until the National Assembly
passes corresponding legislation, and until the GON employs
the appropriate legal instruments with which to prosecute
TED offenders. End comment.


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