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Meeting our marine challenges

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16.MAY.08

Another successful Fisherman’s Day was held on Monday. Our congratulations go out to all the participants, the winners in the various categories especially, and to all fisherfolk. We look forward to greater participation of women in the sector and to a true Fisherfolk Day in the future.{{more}}

This year’s activities occurred in the context of the global concern over food, both in terms of availability and price. The nutritional needs of our people are being given much more attention than in the past, and marine food as a rich source of nutrition, has taken on even greater significance. No surprise therefore that the matters of improved fishing technologies and an upgrade of our fishing fleet, including access to larger and more modern vessels, are given high priority. This is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of increasing efficiency and productivity as well as ensuring greater safety of our fisherfolk at sea.

These have their bearing on the key issues of cost and access to marine products. Improved fishing technologies and larger, more modern boats would make it possible for more fish to be available. According to the laws of supply and demand, more fish and marine products on the market should lead to a reduction in price. That is a critical imperative if we are to attain the lofty goal of increasing consumption of fish and all the other marine delights. For, much as we promote the slogan “After breast, fish is best”, the reality is that the high price of fish is a formidable obstacle to increasing such consumption. With our low wage structure, it is virtually impossible for the many thousands of the lower paid to be able to afford fish for their families on a regular basis.

Yet, the mere acquisition of a modern fleet alone will not bring the needed reduction. The fishing sector itself must be appropriately re-organized with particular attention to upgrading the level of the most important factor – human resources. Attention must be paid to not just improving the skill of the fisherfolk, but also their capacity to understand and imbibe new technologies, to increase their level of awareness and global comprehension. In addition, the management of the various institutions and enterprises in the sector must be suitably addressed.

These are challenges which not just the fishing sector, but the government and we as a people must face. The rewards for overcoming them can be bounteous for us all.

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