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By NBF News
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NIGERIA Fish Trawler Owners Association of Nigeria (NTOA) has raised alarm over production cost in the industry 'saying 'each vessel consumes an average of 60 tonnes of diesel daily and that is N10 million per 45-day fishing trip.

'Based on this, operators are begging the federal government for diesel subsidy as diesel alone accounts for 85 per cent of their production cost,' said NTOA President, Mr. John Overo.

'We are appealing to government to also subsidise diesel. If the farmers enjoy fertiliser subsidy, then the fishing sector should have an incentive to enable the sector to thrive

'The supply of this product to industrial fishing operators requires government intervention and support to continue to survive and more so, play more roles in the economic development of the nation,' he added.

The NTOA President, also said AGO constitutes 80 percent of their production cost of running the business, and that the relief that came from the federal government approving a direct AGO allocation to the sector was temporary because the policy could not be implemented.

On other challenges facing operators in the sector, he said that they are bogged down by the issue of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) sea piracy and lack of a centralised fishing terminal.

'The recent restriction on the use of the EEG certificates by Nigeria Customs Service to only import of raw materials and machinery has hampered the use of certificates'. Giving an analogy, he said in 2004, Nigeria was contributing 1percent of the world total supply of seafood but that presently, this has dropped to below 0.5 percent, adding that if the non-payment of EEG is allowed to linger on, not only would the market share be eroded but could be lost completely.

He further observed that another problem they are facing is pirates attacking their vessels. He noted for instance, two which they recorded last last year, in April and August when the sea pirates struck off the Bonny Oil Terminal, assaulted seven vessels and subsequently took them to an unknown destination and vandalised the vessels..

'The pirate removed all the electronic gadgets on board, including the SSB Radio, VHF Radio, Radar and Echo Sounder.'

He added: 'This further underscores the call by NITOA call for the provision of adequate security in Nigeria's territorial waters to ensure safe operations for fishing vessels and other law abiding maritime users.'

These vulnerabilities have made it necessary for the federal government' support of the sector.