Cablegate: Aquaculture Experts State Nigerian Fishing

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




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Aquaculture experts report Nigeria has consistently
underperformed in meeting targeted fish production quotas.
They blame the low productivity on lack of available
commercial vessels and able seafarers, environmental
pollution, poor enforcement of fishing regulations, lack of
defined water rights and poor infrastructure. The one
success story experts point to is in the area of fish farming
in Lagos.

Huge Gap in Fish Demand and Supply

2. (U) Nigerian Institute of Oceanography Aquaculture
Professor O.A. Ayinla said the fishing industry has taken an
undeserved vacation for the last ten years. The GON has
consistently underperformed its target for yearly fish
production by one million metric tons the past five years, he
said. The Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture, and Natural
Resources put domestic demand for fish at approximately 1.5
million metric tons for 2005. The total amount of local fish
production including industrial, artisanal, and fish farming
totaled approximately 500,000 metric tons, one million metric
tons short of GON targets, Ayinla said. The huge gap between
supply and demand forced Nigeria to import fish, making
Nigeria one of the largest importers of frozen fish in W.
Africa. Nevertheless, the amount imported -- 300,000 metric
tons in 2004 -- is not enough to completely satisfy demand.
The result is scarcity, higher prices, and an increase in
food insecurity.

Challenges Are Many

3. (U) Lack of large-scale industrial fishing vessels,
increasing costs for purchasing and maintaining fish vessels,
and low seafarer salaries hinder Nigeria's ability to meet
national fish demand, Ayinla said. He said Nigeria does not
have the fishing vessels or technology needed to fish 100
feet below sea-level, the depth where the most plentiful
stocks are found. Insufficient fishing infrastructure
prevents Nigeria from fully exploiting marine resources in
the Atlantic Ocean, especially yellow-fin tuna, Ayinla said.

4. (U) Poor fishing infrastructure for large-scale industrial
fishing required Nigeria to shift focus from blue water
fishing to inland sources, experts said. The 2004 Nigerian
Special Program for Food Security (NSPFS) has focused on
creating more fish farms to meet demand, particularly in
increasing catfish and codfish output, the two most commonly
consumed fish among Nigerians. University of Ibadan
Professor and Aquaculture Consultant Eyiwunmi Falaye
remarked, however, pollution and environmental degradation in
lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, have undermined these efforts.
In addition, lack of defined water rights and enforcement of
fishing regulations has meant Nigeria has no "clear-cut"
fishing policy, he said. Lack of available funding to
enhance fishing capacity was cited as another major obstacle
to increasing inland production.

Chinese Involvement

5. (U) Professor Falaye said the GON is targeting fish
production at 2 million metric tons for 2007. He believes
those targets are overly ambitious given the current straits
facing the industry. Although Nigeria launched its 2003
Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Project (AIFP) to increase
inland fishing, the project has not significantly increased
output as hoped, Dr. Falaye said. Nevertheless, he credited
the involvement of Chinese aquaculture technicians in helping
to strengthen domestic fish production in less-capital
intense rural areas. (Note: Under the Nigerian Special
Program for Food Security (NSPFS), 70 Chinese aquaculture
technicians came for six weeks in 2004 to the University of
Agriculture Makurdi in Benue State to strengthen fish
production capacity in Nigeria. End Note.)

Success Story--Fish Farming

6. (U) Although production has not climbed as much as the GON
would like, Dr. Ayinla and Dr. Falaye noted that fish farming
has advanced under NSPFS. They said the average cost of
building a facility capable of producing 20 metric tons of
fish annually (roughly 250,000 kg of fish per year) is
roughly naira 4 million (USD 30,769), more than enough to
cover operation and building costs. The average cost for one
kilogram of fish is around naira 240 (USD 1.85). One fish
farm has the potential to bring in between naira 40 to 60
million (USD 307,692 to 461,538) per year, experts said.
They credit the increase in the number of fish farms in Lagos
from 150 in July 2004 to over 240 in August 2005 to the GON's
program and UN Food and Agriculture Organization's four-year
USD 6.9 million Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Project
(AIFP) (Note: GON reported total number of fish farms in
Nigeria exceeds 2,650).

7. (SBU) The Federal Minister of State for Agriculture and
Rural Development, Bamidele Dada, has extensive experience in
the fisheries industry. He formerly served as UN Assistant
Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization,
and is respected in the aquaculture community. Because
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Adamu Bello,
lacks Dada's extensive experience in fisheries, that sector
has been assigned to Dada, industry experts said. Despite
Dada's credentials, however, aquaculture does not seem to
have become a compelling Ministry priority, and no clear-cut
policy has been established since Dada became Minister of
State. To be fair, the Ministry is beleaguered by hundreds
of priorities and a low resource base. With its modest
assets, the Ministry cannot do much and many of the problems
with fish production, such as the micro-economics of blue
water commercial fishing and shipbuilding, are beyond the
Ministry's ambit.

8. (SBU) Comment continued: For now, Chinese involvement in
fish farming appears to be minimal. When Chinese technicians
visited Nigeria, they focused on fish production in
less-intensive rural areas, and the impact of their training,
albeit positive, is probably also marginal. Nevertheless,
their involvement is another indication of a broader Chinese
presence in Nigeria. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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