By John Omoaka
The Norwegian Seafood Council on Wednesday in Lagos said that it recorded a significant reduction in the exportation of its stockfish heads to Nigeria in 2023 as against same period last year as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) just recently lifted the ban on Forex for importation of stockfish heads into the country.
Speaking at the one-day interactive seminar, Director Africa, Mr Trond Kostveit, owned the decline to recession and challenges in importation of the seafood.
“From our perspective, we can see two reasons why the exports have suffered down-turn this year. The general trend of recession in the Nigerian market coupled with difficulties related to currency have halted the import of Norwegian seafood”, he said.
However, the Director Africa appreciated the CBN over the delisting of stockfish heads among the 42 items placed under restrictions in 2015.
“We are very happy and grateful that stockfish was delisted from the forex ban among other produce.
“We are very thankful to the Nigerian authorities for doing that, and we think that this will be very important going forward.
“The Nigerian stockfish sector is a big employer of labour, a lot of Nigerians are employed in importing and selling and preparing the stock fish”, Kostveit added.
On his part, the Royal Norwegian Ambassador, Mr Svein Bæra, Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, said Norway is committed to fostering the century old trade relationship between Nigeria and Norway.
“Here in Nigeria we have been exporting stockfish for almost 150 years. So, it has been an acquired taste for a long time.
“History has shown that the Norwegian stockfish has become an important ingredient in Nigerian cuisine over the years.
“However, the Norwegian stockfish is not in competition with the local aquaculture sector because of its unique taste.
“We would like to thank the Nigerian authorities for supporting the Norwegian stockfish trade over the years.
“We hope that the value of the Naira will stabilise to ensure that stockfish will remain affordable in the years to come,” Bæra said.
The Consultant to the Norwegian Seafood Council in Nigeria and former Deputy Director in the Federal Department of Fisheries, Ms Abbey Cheke, expressed optimism over the lifting of ban on stockfish with respect to forex.
“We would like to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria and the CBN for delisting stockfish heads from the list and also for the floating rate. I believe things will improve and the trade between Norway Seafood Council will definitely increase.
“Norway has a special window for Nigerian farmed fish, tilapia, to enter into Norway at zero per cent import duty, if the EU fully vacates the ban on Nigeria’s fish” Cheke said.
Delivering the keynote address, Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, ably represented by the Deputy Director, Abah Philip said seafood industry in Nigeria contributes largely to the economy and food supply.
“The seafood industry, with its vast resources and potential for job creation, has the capacity to not only meet the nutritional needs of the population but also contribute to the economic development of our nation”, Kyari said.
Speaking on behalf of the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, Deputy Comptroller, Gambo Aliyu, said the Service would continue to carry out its mandate of protecting home industries.
“As the drivers of the trade, it behoves on us at NCS to positively stimulate trade by providing a level playing field for businesses to thrive while not loosing sight of the protection of home industries”, Aliyu said.
Representatives from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC), and Federal Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture were present including various associations of fish business.