The Akwa Ibom State Government is to tackle the challenges facing fishermen to encourage large scale production of seafood in the State.
The Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio stated this when the Executive and Members of the Ibom Seafood producers Multi-purpose cooperative Union Limited, paid him a courtesy visit in Uyo.
He commended the union for deeming it necessary to identify the challenges and seek ways of tackling them, describing it as a welcome development that will ensure the availability of Seafoods in the State.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Oliver Udokpo, the Commissioner said Government was aware of the challenges facing fishermen in the State and was making efforts to solve them.
The Commissioner pledged to partner the union to help streamline the activities of fishermen along the coastal areas of the State.
The National President of the Union, Deacon Francis Ekpenyong, mentioned that they were on the visit to intimate the government on the challenges facing fishermen which are adversely affecting large scale production of seafood in the State.
Deacon Ekpenyong decried a situation where strangers from neighbouring States invade the business in the State by empowering the fishermen to produce solely for them.
The development, according to him, has enslaved most fishermen who are helpless without having a say in the business since they are answerable to their masters who empowered them.
He identified lack of means of conveying seafood from the rural areas to urban cities as well as lack of storage facilities like cold-room for preservation of seafood in the State as some of the challenges in the industry.
While appealing to the state government to equip the fishermen with necessary tools like outboard engines, nets, boats and other related materials, Deacon Ekpenyong also made a case for government to constitute a committee headed by the Commissioner to take charge of seafood business to ensure free flow and stability of seafood in the State.