Between $10billion and $23.5 billion are yearly lost globally as a result of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
This figure, according to the Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF), represent 37 per cent of the West African region’s catch.
A Deputy Director of FDF, Babatunde Popoola quoted these figures at a seminar organised by the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) on the arrest and prosecution of maritime crimes yesterday in Lagos.
Lamenting that the menace of IUU was a global challenge, Popoola stated that regional and international cooperation was needed to enhance information sharing.
He also called for the review of extant provisions of fishing in the country to provide sanctions that are commensurate to the crime.
Popoola said there was need to curb illegal exploitation of marine fisheries resource especially by foreign vessels, adding that the lack of fisheries protection patrol vessel was a hindrance.
Listing the various fisheries provisions that warrant arrest, Popoola urged the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to apprehend any fishing boat not duly licenced, or whose licence has expired.
He said that the use of wrong category of fishing licence was also an offence, adding that boats fishing with poisonous substances dynamite or gamalin 20 should be arrested.
According to him, no vessel should fish in restricted areas, which are five nautical miles non-trawling zone and breeding ground for juvenile fish.
The seminar which was organised to chart a new course in the arrest and prosecution of maritime criminals was attended by the Commissioner of Police (CP) incharge of Ports, Besan Gwana; Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) QUORRA, Commodore Francis Isaac and Commodore Omatseye Nasiama, who represented the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) NAVTRAC, Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, among others.
Earlier, Gwana, who represented the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Maritime said that there was decrease in maritime crimes in the last three years.
Giving a four-year breakdown, Gwana noted that 389 cases were reported in 2011; 420 in 2012, 315 in 2013, 308 in 2014 and 171 last year.
Noting that most of the cases were still under investigation, he said the command recorded convictions on a handful, some were acquitted and others awaiting trial.
According to him, the police have put mechanisms such as surveillance, robust information gathering and awareness creation, as well as constant patrols in place as preventive mechanism against maritime crimes.
In her presentation, the legal officer, NAVTRAC, Lieutenant Commander P.U. Anyanwu canvassed the need for the creation of special courts to strictly handle maritime cases, adding that there should be synergy between maritime stakeholders.