Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has said that importation of stockfish is not a threat to local fish production, even as he asked relevant authorities to stop listing the commodity as animal feed.
Speaking at the Norwegian Seafood Seminar in Lagos, the minister, who was represented by the Director of Fisheries, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Ime Umoh, reiterated that stockfish could never be found in Nigerian waters.
He said, “Stockfish is processed from the finest of codfish, which can only be found in the coldest of waters and can never be produced in Nigerian waters. This then affirms that stockfish does not compete with, and certainly does not pose any threat to local fish production in the country.
“Stockfish head is not animal feed, as it is sold for human consumption in all our local markets and supermarkets. Virtually all the tribes in Nigeria eat it.”
The Director, Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, said that the inclusion of fishes on the list of items that won’t have access to Forex by the Central Bank of Nigeria affected stockfish import.
“Initially, imported pelagic fish and stockfish were not included in this list. However, fish was later included. With the inclusion of fish on the list, it automatically affected stockfish importation,” he added.
In his speech, the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, who represented the Governor Nyesom Wike, said that partnership with the Norwegian government would create more jobs and provide technical assistance, especially in the local fish production.
“We want to ensure that we have sustainable food for our people, especially low carbon, which we know stockfish represents. We also want to ensure that we keep the jobs on the value chain of this industry. We don’t want to lose jobs any longer.
“We want our local aquaculture to increase and improve, and we are looking for assistance in areas of technical training from the Norwegian government for our people who are into local production of fish,” she said.
Representing the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Deputy Director, Mr. Ishaku Zakaria, said based on the present reforms and policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, “Norwegian investors are welcome.”
He added, “The present administration has initiated several reforms and policies that are geared towards removing some bottlenecks, in terms of trade barriers.”