The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has given approval to 39 companies out of 200 that applied for licences for fish importation.

Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on the sideline of the just concluded Seafood Seminar organized by the Norwegian Seafood Council in Lagos, a Director in the Department, Dr. Ime Umoh, said that most of the applications were turned down because they could not meet the requirement for licences to import fish.

Umoh also said that most of the disqualified applicants had issues with their tax clearance and other documentation adding that the processing of the approvals is done once a year.

He explained that apart from the documentation that must be perfected, the applicant must also have a proper storage capacity as part of the requirement.

He said: “151 applicants did not meet the requirements as only 39 were given licenses to import fish this year. We profile these applicants, look at their experiences as traders before we give approval and the approval process is done once a year. The next round of approval will be next year.

“Some people got approval last year but did not utilise their licences last year maybe because they did not have the capacity to import.

“We know the faces of frozen importers but traders in stockfish and stockfish heads are still a mystery to us because they are unknown to us.

As a department, we want a relationship with these importers. As a Ministry, we want to be close to them so that we can resolve our issues together as they arise.”