Abuja, Aug. 24, 2023: The Federal Government on Thursday, unveiled the National Aquatic Animal Health Strategy for Nigeria (NAAHS 2023-2027) to protect and improve aquatic animal health in the country.
The strategic document aimed to prevent, control, and manage diseases in Nigeria’s aquatic animals through a systematic, holistic and sustainable approach.
The strategy also seeks to achieve food security and safety of fisheries and aquaculture products, and promote international trade in fisheries and aquaculture products.
Speaking at the ceremony in Abuja, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, said that the event was significant in the nation’s aquatic ecosystems.
“This event marks a significant milestone in our nation’s commitment to the well-being of our aquatic ecosystems.
“The prosperity of our aquatic industry and exploration of the great potentials of the industry towards food and nutritional security,” he said.
Umakhihe was represented by the Director, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Dr Ime Umoh.
He said that the strategic plan would provide roadmap for improved and safe fishery production and productivity in Nigeria.
Umakhihe said aquatic animal disease outbreaks posed a threat to trade facilitation, livelihoods, food nutrition security, ecosystem health as well as public health.
He said that indiscriminate use of antibiotics in aquaculture also constitutes a major driver to AntiMicrobial Resistance (AMR).
“In addition, climate change also threatens aquaculture by providing opportunities for some undesirable pathogens to establish in waters with warmers conditions,“he said.
He said that the development of a comprehensive aquatic animal health strategic plan, was necessary to provide a roadmap for improved and safe fishery production and productivity in Nigeria.
Umakhihe said that the execution of the strategy would minimize the negative impacts of aquatic pathogens.
He it would also protect the health of human population, and enhance the resilience of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems within the country.
The permanent secretary said this would also promote international trade of aquatic animal species such as aquaculture fish, shrimps, water snails and frogs.
He urged stakeholders to continue to collaborate with the ministry in the implementation of the strategic document.
” This will facilitate its holistic implementation, sustainability and mobilisation of resources,” he said.
Earlier, the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services in the ministry, Dr Columba Vakuru, said the initiative would shape the future of Nigeria’s aquatic resources.
“Aquatic animal health is not just an environmental concern; it is a matter of national importance.
“Diseases affecting our aquatic animals can have severe consequences for our food and nutritional security, economy, public health, and the delicate balance of our aquatic ecosystems.
“It is imperative that we take proactive measures to safeguard the health and well-being of our aquatic animals,” he said.
In a remark, Mr Hassan Mundu, a representative of the Tilapia Development Association of Nigeria, called for the prompt implementation of the document.
Mundu ,who said it was a big step in the right direction, commended the ministry and other stakeholders for initiating the framework.