As the country is moving towards sustainable development after the devastating ebola outbreak in the country, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe has said that Aquaculture will be another significant area for investment and sustainable development.
Minister Pat-Sowe made this statement recently, during a one-day inception workshop organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with other UN agencies to look into potential areas of development in the country and according to the minister; aquaculture can contribute significantly to food security, employment and economic growth.
“Our country is endowed with natural environment such as perennial inland valley, swamps, network of rivers, streams and lakes, estuaries that can be used for the development and promotion of aquaculture and inland fisheries in the country” and in line with that, the ministry’s major policy objective will be to ensure availability of adequate fish supplies and guarantee the equitable distribution of fish to every household in the country.
He said presently, the country relies mostly on marine capture fisheries for the supply of fish to local markets as well as act as a source for revenue generation for the Government which is not encouraging, stating that according to a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) aquaculture report, some of these fish stocks are declining.
He however suggested that “sustainable aquaculture will therefore make measurable contributions to the sharp decline in national fish supplies by gauging fish production in the hinterland that is mainly landlocked” Pat-Sowe explained.
He also explained that aquaculture can be developed in mining areas though it requires support in capacity building, improved infrastructure, availability of local fish feed and reinforcement of extension services stating that constructions of ponds in mined out areas will further rejuvenate the mining lands and convert them to livelihood sources and generation of household incomes.
The minister also explained that Sierra Leone is about to join countries like Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique in ‘High Input Interventionist Approach’ which is aimed at increasing farm fish production and the establishment of private equity led commercial fish farms.
He said the ministry together with development partners will assist small holder farmers in community through empowerment and capacity building of fish production and farming.
In 2014, he continued, there was a significant improvement of aquaculture and inland fisheries sector in the country as the country’s experimental outstations in Bo and Makali are currently under rehabilitation.