A Professor of Fisheries Management, Oluayo Bello-Olusoji has said that shellfish farming has the capacity to bring Nigeria out of its present economic predicament, ravaging poverty and over- dependence on petrol if its potentials are properly harnessed.
Professor Bello-Olusoji while delivering the 124th Inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA on Tuesday April 6,2021 with the title Balanced Equation, the Missing Value –Shellfish, said shellfish farming will also increase the per capita income of the country ,improve consumption of protein among the populace, reduce fish importation, create more jobs, improve livelihood of the community and increase income generation among the teeming nation’s populace.
He characterized shellfish to include finfish, shellfish, and crustaceans such as prawns, lobsters, shrimps and fresh water crayfish and molluscs such as clams, oysters, snails and periwinkles. He highlighted their importance to include delicacy, nutritive values, socio economic value, calcium production, bio indicators, immune boosting and brain development.
He said that shellfish are neglected crustaceans that can generate more income adding that Nigeria can key into the money spinning shellfish industry in Asia, America and Latin America. Citing the fact that there are many consumers outside the country in Europe, Asia and America who are longing for “Nigerian Crayfish” hence crayfish will make a great sale both within and outside Nigeria. The don said shellfish plays an important role in the world’s economic system.
He explained further that to have a balanced equation the missing value which is shellfish must be imputed. This according to him will support the actualization of the United Nations agenda on Food security. This involves the totality of fisheries, from production to harvesting, processing and utilization, provision of balanced diet, nutrition improvement, marketing, creation of jobs, income generation and livelihood enhancement. He pointed out that shellfish is experiencing extremely good export potential as it is now being exported to over 77 countries.
He said captured fisheries which are already depleted have not been able to keep pace with growing demand as aquaculture is still growing and producing less than 20% global demand. He pointed out that shellfish is the only important food source among the capture fisheries that is still primarily gathered from the wild rather than farmed. Therefore, there is a need to turn to shellfish production to meet the ever-increasing demand to balance the quest for food.
The lecturer disclosed that the seafood sector is first and foremost big business, extremely dynamic and is increasingly becoming a global sector creating wealth opportunities and jobs. He said Nigeria has a long coastline of 853 kilometers and the Niger Delta has a large unused beach edge, which can be used for coastal shrimp farming without destroying mangroves. He said creeks, floodplains, brackish water and wetland areas have been identified as the best places for shellfish aquaculture in Nigeria.
The don recommended the creation of a shellfish bank for classification and mapping and a programme of education for farmers and other players in the aquatic environment in order to caution them against indiscriminate and accidental discharge of some locally processed products as growth and development of shellfish are hampered by obnoxious discharge of toxic to the water bodies.
He said efforts should be geared towards reducing the impact of effluent on aquatic habitats while strict policies and laws should be enacted. He called for development in human capacity and technology as well as increase in human resources and technology in order to obtain optimum and sustainable outcomes in shellfish farming. He said this will create work for the unemployed restless youth and increase the GDP and boost the economy.
Speaking at the lecture in his capacity as chairman of the occasion, the Vice Chancellor of FUTA, Professor Joseph Fuwape, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic, Professor Rufus Ogunsemi lauded the lecturer for the cerebral delivery of the lecture and described Professor Lousier-Bello as an agriculturist of international standing and a renowned scientist in Shellfish Ecology.