Norwegian Seafood Council hails FG for delisting stockfish from FX ban

Trond Kostweit, the Director of Africa Norwegian Seafood Council, said the delisting would boost the Nigerian stockfish sector.

The Norwegian Seafood Council has commended the Federal Government for delisting stockfish on the list not valid for the foreign exchange window.

The council made the commendation at the one-way interactive workshop with stakeholders and regulators in the seafood sector on Wednesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restricted the availability of foreign exchange to the importation of 43 items which could be locally produced within the country.

NAN reports that Norwegian stockfish was part of the 43 items banned in 2015 from accessing forex.

However, in October 2023, the CBN announced the restoration of the 43 items prohibited from access to the foreign exchange window in 2015.

Trond Kostweit, the Director of Africa Norwegian Seafood Council, said the delisting would boost the Nigerian stockfish sector.

“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 stockfish.

“To boost the Nigerian aquaculture sector, we have organised a workshop for a competence building with a subject of aquaculture to help Nigeria do aquaculture as we have done in Norway,” Kostweit told NAN.

On his part, 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 Minister of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS), Abubakar Kyari, represented by Philip Abah, the Deputy Director Fisheries Department, also commended the council for the contribution to the growth of the Nigerian aquaculture sector.

“We extend our warm gratitude to the Norwegian Seafood Council for their dedication in advancing our nation’s seafood industry over the years.

“The Nigerian seafood industry contributes largely to the economy and food supply as well as playing a key role in international trade.

“By harnessing the potential of sustainable fishing practice, promoting aquaculture and fostering collaboration between government and industry stakeholders, we can build a resilient food system.

“The seafood sector 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

Abbey Cheke, fisheries consultant, the Norwegian Seafood Council, also emphasised the council’s continuous support of the Nigerian aquaculture sector.

“We would like to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria and the CBN for delisting stockfish from the forex ban. This is what we have been on for the past three and a half years.

“We believe things will improve in the sector and the trade between Norway and Nigeria will increase.

“Norway will give Nigeria more assistance in terms of quality assurance, and training in aquaculture.

“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.

“Even the producers of stockfish have cut down prices to enable Nigerian importers to continue business due to the fluctuating Naira,” Cheke added.

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