The fish business value chain in Nigeria is facing difficulties due to the foreign exchange (forex) restriction imposed on fish importation. Importers and traders have expressed their concerns about the harm this ban has done to their businesses, especially with the high prices of fish, particularly stockfish.
They have called on the government to consider lifting the foreign restrictions on fish importation. They have also requested that the government delist stockfish from the items on forex ban so as to make it affordable to end users.
Mr. Greg Ilobinso, a major importer of stockfish, emphasized that the amount of forex needed for this aspect of fish trade is small and that the continued retention of stockfish on the list will continue to affect the value chain of stockfish trade.
The Director for Africa for the Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Tronds Kostveit, has also stressed the need for the Federal Government to remove fish from the list of items on forex ban.
He revealed that Nigeria is the largest importer of Norwegian seafood, and a total of 43,251 metric tonnes of various fishes were imported last year. Mackerel is the most imported fish product brought into the country, with a total of 14,997 metric tonnes, followed by herring with 13,845 metric tonnes, while stockfish recorded a total of 10,740 metric tonnes.
Some stakeholders have told journalists that the low tonnage of the importation of stockfish bodies was due to the forex restriction on the importation of stockfish. However, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has tasked stockfish and seafood importers to provide proper documentation to avoid illegal importation.
Mr. James Umoru of FMARD’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department encouraged the importers to register with the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for accurate data capturing of stockfish imports.
Mrs. Felicia Udeh, an assistant director at the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, praised the efforts of the Norwegian Seafood Council in the nation’s aquaculture sector. She stated that the Federal Government would continue to support and promote the development of the non-oil sector. She also promised to create an enabling environment for the organised private sector to thrive.