By Stella Coker

Ahead of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) primaries in Bayelsa state, one of the leading aspirants in the forthcoming governorship election and immediate past Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Konbowei Benson Friday has expressed concern over the plight of coastal communities in the state, saying he would introduce fisheries subsidies policy for artisanal fishermen and fisheries to create enabling operational environment in coastal communities in the state.

Speaking with newsmen in home in Yenagoa recently, the two times    former Speaker explained that such friendly policies in the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector of the state’s economy would boost the local economy and create several job opportunities for the rural dwellers, particularly the youth population, with a view to reducing maritime on waterways.

“General attention should be directed to supporting the legitimate development needs of artisanal fisheries through fair policies. I intend to collaborate with the relevant ministries and agencies at the federal level and introduce fisheries subsidies/loans schemes fishermen and women in coastal communities to create more job opportunities for our youth to curb maritime related crimes on our waterways” Rt. Hon. Said.

The former Speaker, who expressed concern over the plight of coastal fishing communities in the state reiterated the urgent need to build the capacities of artisanal commercial fishers in a bid to evaluate whether endangeredð species are overfished or not, so as to put in place requisite remedies through policy or other means, in addition to ensuring that fisheries are undertaken at small commercial level in their legitimate operational jurisdictions in accordance relevant legislation.

He said Bayelsa having the longest coastline was endowed with so much maritime resources that were yet to be exploited, adding that an environmentally friendly approach to fisheries business has the capacity to transform the fisheries and aquaculture sector among others through improving on the traditional processing methods of fish beyond simply freezing to other forms.

“Given the small size of our artisanal fishing fleets in coastal communities, there is need for flexibility on the part of federal legislations to allow for development of artisanal fishing fleets within sustainable levels through subsidies. There is need for policy space that enables development of landing, processing and marketing facilities through provision of such subsidies”, he noted.

According to experts, “the possibility of fish production especially artisanal fisheries to match up with fish productivity in the economy depends on fishing operation, efficient use of labour, sustainable and efficient management of fishing policy and management tools such as restricting the effort of fishers through a set up of an efficient and effective administration to guide fishers in various communities”