Resident Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Gambia, Madam Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, has revealed that the objective of the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) project is designed to help countries to bring together knowledge and capacity-building in order to establish adequate mechanisms of good governance.
This, according to her, is aimed towards managing and reversing the trend of degradation of this ecosystem caused by overfishing, habitat change and changes in the quality of the water, by adopting a management based on the ecosystem approach.
She spoke at the official opening ceremony of the Seventh Steering Committee Meeting of the project on the “Protection of the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem” (CCLME) held in Banjul.
“The current phase of the CCLME project was initiated in 2010 and is jointly funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF), countries of the region and partners. It is being implemented by FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with two components: Fisheries and Environment. This project will benefit seven countries namely Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Morocco and Senegal,” she pointed out.
Katepa-Kalala disclosed that it was at the CCLME first project steering committee meeting held in Dakar, Senegal in 2010 that agreement was made on the establishment of eight technical working groups to assist the process of development of a Transboundary Diagnosis Analysis (TDA) and the elaboration of a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for the CCLME. These tasks, she noted, were achieved with success while the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) was signed by 12 Ministers of Environment and Fisheries of the seven countries.
Madam Katepa-Kalala further disclosed that CCLME demonstration projects have also made significant progress to respond to the issues addressed in their frameworks, while diverse actions could be replicated in the frame of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan.
“This Seventh Steering Committee meeting will allow you to review the achievements of the project and examine the status of the main products of the project, while it also serves as an opportunity to analyse plans for the coming year,” according to her.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Senior adviser to the Minister Dr. Malanding Jaiteh disclosed that the complexity of the ecosystem and the diversity of the interventions that it undergoes explain the relevance of the participatory approach taken by the project. It promotes across national boundaries, the agreement at the regional level that will enable countries to adopt a coordinated approach to deal with cross-border problems in various countries sharing this marine and coastal environment,” he stated.
This collaborative approach is probably the best way to improve the health of this ecosystem, he pointed out, adding that the participation of the Gambia in the project reflects the interest of the country in the management of its marine and coastal environment as the engine of environment development and with the conviction that it is only through sharing of expertise that the country can meet the challenges facing the country in all areas, including that of fishing.
Dr. Bamba Banja, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, Water resources and National Assembly Matters, noted that the CCLME is one of the main global systems of transboundary currents with upwelling, and it also ranks third in the world in terms of primary productivity, after the large marine ecosystems (LMEs) of Humboldt and Benguela, and it provides the highest fish production of any African LME with an annual production between two and three million tons.
Dr. Banja revealed that it also provides ecosystem goods and services including habitats for fishes and other coastal species, freshwater coastal and estuarine rivers, mangrove forests, maritime and coastal areas for agriculture, aquaculture, urban tourism and transportation. The CCLME is a vital food and economic resource, not only for the coastal populations bordering the Large Marine Ecosystem, but also for much of West Africa, and beyond, he concluded.
By Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang