FISH PLAYS A VITAL ROLE IN FOOD SECURITY, SAYS DON
The 89th Inaugural lecturer of the University of Calabar, Prof. Sunday Ben Ekanem has said that fish plays a vital role in food security, stressing that the contribution of fisheries to the Nigerian economy is very significant in terms of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation and foreign exchange earnings.
Prof. Ekanem stated this at the Institution’s International Conference Centre while delivering the inaugural lecture on the theme, “Fish as It Is No More Commons”.
According to the inaugural lecturer, it is estimated that about 10 million Nigerians are actively engaged in fisheries operations as fish folks, fish farmers, fish processers, marketers, operators on board industrial fishing boats, terminal/jetty operators and net fabricators and menders, engine repairs and fitters.
He said Nigerian shrimp is considered one of the best in the world and presently generates over 50 million US dollars annually.
Prof. Ekanem maintained that the importance of fishes to Nigerian economy is indicated by its contribution of 5.4% to the Gross Domestic Products.
The inaugural lecturer stated that Fish contributes immensely to the enhancement of healthy living, adding that apart from protein for body building, fish contains omega 3 fatty acid that reduces the risk of cardio-vascular diseases and hypertension.
Prof. Ekanem said that Fish is medically prescribed as preferred animal protein for the age bracket of 50 years and above, disclosing that Omega 3 fatty acid is also responsible for proper development of brain cells in developing foetus.
The Varsity don who underscored the importance of Fish said it is recommended to pregnant women and young children for good health and mental development, adding that it also enhances high intelligent quotient in developing children.
The inaugural lecturer said the consumption of Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish is said to reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer disease.
He said Fatty acid in tuna contributes to healthy brain function and helps to postpone cognitive decline in elderly people as well as reduce symptoms of depression.
Going historical, the inaugural lecturer said Fish of the past was made mostly of captured fishes from oceans, seas, rivers and lakes which belong to all mankind or to no one at all.
He said the concept of commons created a situation whereby anyone who went into fishing wanted to catch as much as he could, as fast as possible because if he did not, someone else would do so, adding this resulted in the use of improved gears and technology.
Consequent upon this, he said many countries set up ministries and departments to manage fisheries within their territorial waters.
He said at the high seas, it usually takes international bodies to manage and regulate fisheries resources, adding that activities of such management bodies brought about fisheries as it is today.
The inaugural lecturer said that Fisheries today is facing many serious challenges, which according to him; include overfishing, climate change and major environmental disturbances such as oil spill and other causes of pollution.
He said these challenges have all acted together to limit production especially in capture fisheries, adding that aquaculture has come to the rescue though not without its own challenges.
This came as he thanked the Vice Chancellor for maintaining the peace and providing a conducive environment for academic activities to thrive.
He also appreciated the University community for providing him with the enabling environment for him to do his research.
The inaugural lecturer also commended his Department, Zoology and Environmental Biology, whom he said, contributed to the success of the lecture.
In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof Zana Akpagu commended the inaugural lecturer for what he described as a sumptuous intellectual feast, even as he expressed gratitude to him for the pivotal role he has played in mentoring young ones who may eventually step into his shoes in the nearest future.
This came has he described the lecture as rich and informative, saying issues pertaining to nutritional health should be taken seriously.
Prof. Akpagu said Fish contributes to healthy living hence the need for its consumption.
Highpoint of the occasion was the presentation of memento to the inaugural lecturer by the Vice Chancellor.
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