A research report, released by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), is urging relevant stakeholders in the natural resources management sector in Africa, to consider limiting the activities of sand dredgers to non-fishing communities. This, the report indicated, can be achieved by ensuring that licenses are given to sand dredgers to operate only in communities that are not engaged in fishing. The aim is to help reduce the negative effects of sand dredging on fishing.
The objective of the research was to examine the environmental and economic burden of sand dredging on artisanal fishing. The findings, summarised in a policy brief entitled “Alleviating the Impact of Sand Dredging on Fishing”, showed that sand dredging activities have led to the release of solid substances into water bodies, and this has had negative impact on aquatic resources, as a result of water turbidity.
The activities of the sand dredgers, the report indicated, also affected the income of the fishermen. According to the researcher, Dr. Fatai Abiola Sowunmi, the results revealed that fishermen in the dredging areas incurred higher costs per day and low average gross profit than fishermen in the non-dredging areas studied. The high daily operational costs, Dr. Sowunmi explained, may be attributed to costs incurred on long distance travels to catch fish in order to avoid the dredging areas. Over-exploitation and dredging activities were cited as possible reasons for the low daily average gross profit recorded in the dredging areas. The study, therefore, encouraged fishermen to go into fish farming to supplement their income.
In his comments on the findings, Dr. Elias T. Ayuk, Director of UNU-INRA, underscored the importance of the Institute’s research findings on policy decisions. He stated: “our mandate at UNU-INRA is to support policy makers in Africa with evidence-based options for policy considerations. The findings of this particular study emphasise the need to monitor and regulate the activities of sand dredgers, so as to reduce the impact of their operations on fishing”.
The policy brief also recommends the intensification of family planning campaigns in fishing communities to help reduce household sizes in these communities. This is because, the research findings also showed that large household sizes were predominant among the fishing communities and this had repercussions on their incomes.