The Federal government through the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development says it will soon clamp down of cold rooms where imported frozen fish are stored.
According to Minister of state for Agriculture and rural development, Heineken Lokpobiri, smugglers bring in all sorts of frozen fish through the land borders which is prohibited and sabotages the efforts of the government, despite the extant fish importation policy and prohibition of frozen farmed fish importation into the country.
according to him, government is vigorously in pursuit against smuggling and heavy bill of fish importation into the country.
“The smuggling of unhealthy frozen fish into the country is detrimental to the progress being made toward guaranteeing the good health and nutrition of Nigerians”, he stated.
The minister said the government will partner with the Nigeria customs service, Nigerian Navy, and the Nigerian marine police to seize, arrest and fine importers of frozen foods into the country through the land borders and also seal cold rooms where they are sold.
“We will continue to partner with the Nigeria Customs Service, the Navy, marine policy to see how we can clamp down on the offenders.
“Even those that have brought the produce into the country, we are setting up a taskforce that will go round different cold rooms, like what Customs is doing to rice”.
He said the offenders would pay a fine of $250,000 or get five years imprisonment or both in addition to the forfeiture and destruction of the produce as stipulated by the law.
Lokpobiri, while listing some of the fishes imported said that the move was to boost local production and exports, and disclosed that the country’s annual demand on fish was currently at 3.2 million tonnes and deficit at 1.9 million tonnes.
According to him, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the ministry is the only competent authority empowered by the Nigeria Sea Fisheries Act to issue distant water fishing licence for the importation of frozen fish into Nigeria.
“The department does not issue licence for the importation of frozen farmed fish into Nigeria through the land borders.
The minister said that consumption of those imported frozen foods were major cause of some health challenges being experienced in the country.
By Akin Obakeye
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