Fishmeal production is on the upswing in Nigeria. The reason for this cannot be over emphasised when measured against the growing aquaculture industry in Nigeria. This was acknowledged by Ayodele Ogundipe, administration manager for FUCAB Enterprise, who noted that the growth of aquaculture in Nigeria has altered permutations in the fish meal production segment.
Local versus foreign
Foreign fish feeds hitherto dominated the segment because of what many considered their quality but that is no longer the case; the market has been significantly altered by the entry of local fish feed manufacturers.
Stakeholders adduce the reason for the rise of local players to the exorbitant price of imported fish feeds. For instance, Ben Mebo, a fish farmer in the Lekki axis of Lagos State, emphasised that the biggest dilemma facing start-ups in aquaculture was the ability to get the right formular of feeds at moderate cost. “Fish feeds with high proteins are mostly needed for better fish production but they are costly. However, if you use because of money and end up giving your fishes the wrong feeds, they will suffer stunted growth or underweight. There is a way you will formulate the feeds, the fishes will not grow faster. Some will grow fast but with less weight,” Mebo said.
Scarcity of Clupeidae
While the growth of local fishmeal production ventures in Nigerian is plausible, its impact on small scale fisheries is not savoury. This is the case across artisanal fishing communities sampled by our correspondent. The Clupeidae family is one of such fishes that have been found viable for production of fishmeal in Nigeria. The members of this family comprises the herrings, shads, sardines, hilsa, and menhadens
Ahmed Mohammed, Coordinator and General Secretary of TEDAK Fisheries Cooperative Society of Nigeria said the northern part of Nigeria is worse hit by this development.
“Due to the drought many fishermen had to apply different fishing traps to catch more fish from the scarce resources. Moreso, the demand for smaller fishes to produce fish feeds had led many fishermen to intensive fishing efforts by catching all sizes of fish indiscriminately.
Ahmed noted that the use of smaller size net (mosquito net-like) to catch clupeidae, which is used to formulate fish feed has dealt a big blow to the fish population.
By Olisemeka Obeche