Millions of fish consumers are heaving a sigh of relief as fresh import quotas for fish issued by the Ministry of Agriculture has helped to bring down prices across the country.
For instance, Herring prices have come down from N7,600 to N4,000 per carton. In the case of Horse Mackerel, the price came down to N5,800 from more than N9,500 per carton. The Titus species is being sold in the market for N6,800, down from a level of N10,200 per carton.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) figures, Nigeria currently had a shortage of 2.6 million tons of fish.
While the global average of fish consumption is 18.7 kilogrammes per person, Nigerian per capita consumption of fish is only 11.2 kilogrammes.
Nigerian fish supply consists of 600,000 metric tons of local production and the balance is mainly covered by imports of frozen fish. Frozen fish are caught in high seas by trawlers in Asia, Europe and Russian the major markets from where Nigeria imports fish. Nigerian domestic production consists predominantly of farmed fish, mainly catfish. The varieties of frozen fish that Nigeria imports are not available in Nigerian coastal waters. Besides, Nigerian trawling industry has been seriously affected by oil spillage, piracy and non-sustainable fishing practices.
“The impact of any major reduction in imports would only mean that catfish would be the only variety of fish available in Nigeria.
“Nigerians have gotten used to varieties of imported frozen fish over the past decades including Herring or Shawa, and Sardine, which are popular in the North, Horse Mackerel (Kote), Sardinella (Agbodu), and Mackerel, which are staples in the East and Blue Whiting (Panla), which are favourites in the western region of Nigeria. Only the catfish has become accustomed to breeding in Nigeria,” a fishery expert, Solomon Anichebe said.
Following representation and prayers from numerous consumer bodies and associations, pointing to the apparent shortfall in supply and the prohibitive prices, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture recently approved issuance of more quotas to deserving importers.
Sources said the quotas were issued based on proven track record of high quality, fair prices, efficient storage, back up power, cold chain management and firm commitments for fish farming in Nigeria.
“The Ministry of Agriculture aims to increase local fish production in Nigeria, using the enormous water resources available in the country. Further to the above quotas the markets responded very positively for the consumers resulting in drastic price cuts in mass consumption fish species,’ it was gathered. [SOURCE: DAILY SUN]