Re: Mai condemns Saine’s vitriolic attack
Dear editor,
Mai Fatty should just shut his big mouth. He and anyone who behave like him are nothing but hypocrites. He should have been heard condemning so many worse insults, highly prejudicial, hate-filled, divisive and dangerous rhetoric being spewed by members of a certain tribe against others. Where was Mai when those idiots were making and are still making those worse rhetoric?
“I’ve not had the opportunity to listen to the alleged obnoxious audio”, he said.

Yet he had the audacity to vomit his statements here when he had not even listened to it. Yet Mai never issued a single condemnation ever before on previous worse audios. A responsible and fair leader would have started the condemnations where and when it started or at least make mention of all similar irresponsible acts in his condemnation. But Mai did not do that because he is not a fair leader. Shame on him. No one tribe is better or more Gambian than other tribes in The Gambia. We are all equal and so-called political leaders like Mai should lead by example by coming out and condemn all those who are bent on belittling other tribes. We should see The Gambia not one tribe. What Lie Saine did is wrong and should be condemned but it is not in anyway worse than what was said by others like that Dippa Kunda woman about Sarahules, or Njie Manneh, Fatou Fanso on social media. Between you and God, Mai Fatty, if you have not heard any of those audios you must have heard people talking about them yet you have never come out and condemned any of them. WHY? Hope fairness finds a place in your heart.
Malamin Manneh
Serekunda

Exporting fish for animal feed while Gambians suffer malnutrition
Dear editor,
Earlier this year a local newspaper reported that Mr Sajor, president of Bakau Fishermen and Target Beneficiaries Association (BFTBA) appealed to the Gambian government ‘to help them by placing policies that will guide the sea because there isn’t enough fish available in Gambian waters. He said semi-industrial fishing and the use of illegal nets is the problem. Apparently Mr Banja, the permanent secretary at the Ministry Fisheries and Water Resources thinks either a shrinking fish population is not a problem or he thinks there are plenty of fish in Gambian waters. As revealed in the 2018 budget, the Department of Fisheries has ended the ban on industrial fishing and increased fishing licenses. I expect that is not good news for fishermen like Mr Sajor.

I wonder if Mr Banja is aware of research by his own staff. Here is an excerpt from their summary: An Overview of The Gambia Fisheries Sector by Asberr Natoumbi Mendy – Principal Fisheries Officer (Research) August 2009
All small pelagic fish stocks (those that don’t live on or near the bottom) are fully or overexploited.
Most demersal fish stocks (those living at or near the bottom) are fully or overexploited and it is recommended that fishing effort on these be reduced. The White Grouper is near extinction.

The pink shrimp, octopus and cuttle fish are overexploited and fishing effort for these be reduced.
Mr Mendy’s overview tells me that the harvest of just about all types of The Gambia’s fish is at its peak and maybe not sustainable. And this was the status back in 2009 – nine years ago. What is the status of The Gambia’s fisheries today? Well, The Gambia’s own document titled The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015–2020)’ includes a fishery section that mentions guess-timates of the potential fish harvest (88,000 tons) and The Gambia’s actual harvest back in 2010 (50,000 tons). Perhaps the 38,000 ton gap is what Mr Banja relies on to justify his fisheries policy, which is like a line from a WWII movie, Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead – catch more fish. If the many fishing vessels off The Gambia’s coast are taken into consideration (as shown real time at the free site www.marinetraffic.com) I venture to make a guess that the fish population is probably less than it was back in 2010.

The recently released Gambia National Development Plan lists challenges the fisheries sector faces like ‘no knowledge of the current state of fish stocks’, ‘unsustainable number of commercial fishing licenses’ and ‘declining landed catches’. This is what Mr Sajor has been saying but Mr Banja apparently is not listening. Gambia has increased fishing licenses and legalised local fishing trawlers.
As for neighbouring Senegal? It has been reported that Senegalese fishermen have been under a rationing scheme giving each boat one-day per week fishing time because few fish are to be found in their waters. So The Gambia apparently has a deal allowing Senegal fishermen to export Gambian fish to Senegal. I suppose this is only fair since Gambia and Senegal are neighbours and The Gambia has been exporting, illegally, Senegalese timber.

So there we have it. The fisheries ministry is not on the same page as the Gambia National Development Plan. I urge Mr Banja to listen to, not dismiss, the pleas from fishermen like Mr Sajor, who I’d say know what they are talking about. Otherwise, with the current policy, The Gambia’s fisheries resource is at risk of going the way of The Gambia’s timber resource – away.
And the irony of it all? Foreign-owned fishmeal factories processing Gambian fish are exporting their production to feed animals. At the same time there is currently US$20 million (from the World Bank) and EUR26.5 million (from the EU) = plenty of cash money being spent here to reduce child malnutrition because the country can’t feed itself.

Brainwave #1 – Encourage these fishmeal factories to change their setup and make low cost fish balls, fish pies or fish whatever for the benefit of the malnourished here.
Brainwave #2 – Re-start a Maritime Security Arrangement with the USA if that has not been done already. This was a deal the National Assembly voted to reject just two days after Mr Obama refused to meet with Jammeh when he visited Dakar back in June 2013. Local papers reported that under this agreement the US was to help protect Gambian territorial waters from foreign trawlers fishing illegally, drug and arms smugglers and human traffickers. Perhaps it was the drug and arms smuggler part that troubled Jammeh, or the part giving immunity from prosecution to US forces while in The Gambia. Who knows? But the Gambian Navy would appreciate the backup, as would local fishermen like Mr Sajor.
Gambia might as well protect what remains of its fisheries resource. And if anyone is to claim the sorry distinction of catching the last fish in Gambian waters, at least let it be a Gambian.
Amet Ngallan
Fajara


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