Fishing Activity Employs Over 8,494 People in South West
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Fish production fetched FCFA five billion for the State treasury and hit a tonnage of 4,563 last year.
One of Cameroon’s 10 administrative regions sitting on the gulf of guinea and harbouring a privileged fishing potential is the South West Region. The Region enjoys over 70 per cent of the 400 km of Cameroon’s coastal length far above the Littoral and South Regions also opened to the Atlantic Ocean.
Two of the six administrative Divisions of the South West are largely and directly opened to the sea namely Fako and Ndian.
The types of fishing practiced in the South West involve industrial, artisanal maritime, continental or in-land and aquaculture fishing. Some 173 settlements of fishermen have been surveyed in the South West.
Statistics from the Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, MINEPIA speaks of 4,563 tonnes of fish caught in the regional waters in 2014. The same source tells of some 8,494 persons employed in the sector generating FCFA 263,455,407,435 last year. Of the lot, FCFA five billion went into State coffers in the South West from fishing taxes.
Only four of the 60 fishing vessels authorized in Cameroon are based in the Region namely Fini Maritime, Camsprain, Ets. Manga Paul, and Minja Fishing companies. Evidently, the companies are registered with Cameroonians fronting as managers but the industrial fishing companies are all owned by foreigners.
Although officials of MINEPIA have surveyed financial, material, technical and accessibility difficulties for Cameroon in the domain of fishing, the common man can quickly observe a generalised lack of fishing interest among the indigenous population of Fako and Ndian leading to foreigners dominating the sector in the South West Region. For instance, concerning artisanal maritime fishing, only 235 Cameroonians were counted in 2014 as against 2,721 Nigerians, 974 Ghanaians, 519 Beninois and 20 Togolese.
This also explains why over 80 per cent of the fish caught in Cameroon is sold abroad to mostly Nigeria with its fluid accessibility and osmotic financial market.
Yet fishing is estimated by experts to be the richest endowment for Cameroon after minerals. It is even assessed that each time an artisanal fisherman sets on the sea, his return fetches him at least FCFA 500,000.
To win the interest of South West indigenes in fishing, government has deployed frantic efforts including trans-migrating fishermen from other regions of the country to Fako and Ndian Divisions. A case in point is the Mosguns from the northern part of Cameroon who were encouraged to settle in Bamusso, Ndian some years now.
The species of fish detected by experts of MINEPIA in the South West waters include capitaine, bar, sardine, dorade, sole, machouron, tilapia, strong canda, bonga and the rest. Yet, the activity does not go without generating conflict like in any other survival bustle.
As such, pirate attacks on high sea, industrial vessels smashing artisanal fishing nets, and some marine servicemen’s ultra vires acts on the sea. Such conflicts are often mitigated and mediated by officials of MINEPA. They have also used programmes like ACEFA to support fishermen financially, MIDEPECAM like AFOB to supply fishing material and the personnel of MINEPIA who coordinate administrative and sanitary inspections in the domain.
Recently, MINEPIA through their APAM programme, embarked on constructing houses for willing fishermen in the Bakassi area to encourage full time fishing. A recent entente between the Cameroonian and Spanish governments led to the construction of a fishing school near Limbe, which is since three years now just waiting for its opening to trainees.
It is worth noting that there is an undercurrent quick-read as to which of the Universities of Douala or Buea should own the Limbe fishing school. Government effort in the sector also led to the creation of the Barombi Kang fingerlings centre to train willing fish farmers of the Region.