In late November Dyhia Belhabib from the Sea Around Us was in Banjul, The Gambia, to speak at a workshop funded by the MAVA Foundation through the project Sea Around Us in West Africa.
The purpose of the event was to explain catch reconstruction data, the methods behind the data, and to gain feedback from stakeholders in the country.
The room was humid and bustling and was filled with fishers, government representatives, and a host of other organizations eager to discuss the future of fisheries in the country. Dyhia found everyone to be extremely engaged in the conversation.
“There was a lot of participation; everyone in attendance expressed their opinions and their concerns,” she said.
The Gambian government rely on fisheries data to make policy and management decisions, and therefore the quality of the data affects the quality of the decision making.
Fishers, who want their fisheries to be sustainable, suggested they would be able to participate in data collection, to make up for data that sometimes is not available.
“The artisanal fishers wanted to voluntarily report catch data, and they wanted to be taught how to use the logbooks,” said Dyhia.
In addition to the fishers’ keen interest in reporting data, the government stated that they would provide additional agents to travel to fishing regions and help collect data.
“So on the one hand you have a government that is willing to spend effort to collect data, and on the other side, you have the fishers who are willing to provide the data themselves,” said Dyhia.
Ebou Mass Mbye, acting Principal of Fisheries in The Gambia, stressed the importance of reliable and comprehensive information for fisheries sector management. As reported in the Daily Observer, a major newspaper in The Gambia:
“He sincerely hoped that this one day workshop would be successful and would lead to better knowledge and understanding of catch reconstructions.”
Dyhia believes the workshop went a long way in educating the various fishers, NGO’s and government officials in attendance.
“It was great – I was not expecting so much positive feedback,” she said.
For more information read an article about the Sea Around Us in the Daily Observer, a media outlet in The Gambia.