By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, passed through second reading a Bill for an Act to Establish the Fisheries Research Institute of Nigeria.
The sponsor of the Bill, Rep. Abiante Awaji-Inombek (Rivers-PDP), in his lead debate said the institute when established will cater for Fisheries Research, Education and Cooperative Training in Nigeria.
Awaji-Inombek said that the institute will provide training in modern methods and technology in fishing, disseminate research information and innovative technologies to end users.
He explained that the institute will undertake research on promoting investments as well as conducting research to improve the fisheries industry.
The lawmaker added that the new institution will further enhance value chain addition in the fishery industry, including promoting self sufficiency in fish and fish product production.
According to him, fish is a very important source of protein and is essential to good and healthy living.
“Nigeria is known to provide substantial requirement of fish through importation, thereby depleting foreign reserve and also exporting employment.
“Nigeria is reported to import fish worth about N252 billion annually.
To stem this tide therefore, there is the need to develop and improve on the sector.
“Nigeria is endowed with so much body of water, two major rivers, several other rivers, rivulets, lakes, streams, up to the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
“The abundance also comes with a variety of fish species with diverse characteristics and behaviour.”
He stressed that the fishing profession in the country was still at the artisan and small scale level without taking advantage of science and technological development to improve the ancient practice.
Apart from creating improved fishing methods and processes, he argued that the institute will harness the potentials of a hitherto, unemployed or disinterested populace in a very key sector of the nation’s economy.
Contributing to debate on the bill, Rep. Agbedi Frederick (Bayelsa-PDP), said that “the secret of marine environment is in the content.”
The bill was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The House thereafter, referred the bill to the committee on agricultural colleges for further legislative action.