Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected]
Recently, the President of Fishermen Association of Lagos State, Alhaji Fasasi Adekunle, lamented that the activities of multinational companies on the high seas have led to water pollution and death of fishes.
Adekunle had stated that multinational companies were causing oil spill and chemical pollution, which had driven fishes far into the deep sea. He said pollution has made fishing more difficult and risky to members of his association who are forced to travel far into the sea to operate.
He had noted that, “the activities of well-known companies on the sea are forcing fishermen to go about 600 meters into the deep sea. This is worrisome. The chemical they use is destroying business. We are not making sufficient catch as before because it is driving the fishes away. The number of fishes we have this year is very low because of constant pollution…”
He, in addition, condemned the activities of dredgers of the Lagos Lagoon, which he said, are affecting fishing business and depleting its benefits.
The issues the Fishermen Association of Lagos State, through its president, is drawing attention to are critical to the survival and development of the fishery sub-sector of the country, which contributes in no small measure to the economy and nutrition of Nigerians. The concern being expressed in this instance is for coastal artisanal fishing or capture fishery.
According statistics, Nigeria’s coastal and marine areas comprising 853km coastline, continental shelf surface area of 37,934km² and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering 210,900km² are very rich with abundant fin and shellfish resources.
Artisanal fishing, apart from providing livelihoods and nutrition for millions of Nigerians, also contributes to catering for Nigeria’s total fish demand put at 3.32 million metric tonnes (mts), according to a 2016 Summary Report by Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC). Nigeria has to import about 700,000 mts of fish valued at about $500 million annually.
To improve on local catch, reduce imports, possibly export and contribute significantly to the growth of the nation’s economy, therefore, stakeholders are of the opinion that government at all levels and the private sector should make concerted efforts to give the needed push to the sector for desirable result.
According to the former Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Dr. Gbola Akande, some time ago, there is need to expand industrial fishing from inshore to offshore waters to increase aquaculture production.
Addressing the challenges facing fishermen in Lagos as pointed out by the President of Fishermen Association of Lagos State, Alhaji Adekunle, the National President of Tilapia and Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN), Remi Ahmed, said, “the solution for oil spillage that drives fish far into the sea is for these multinational companies to equip the fisherman with the gear that can go far into the sea.”
Ahmed further stated that, “mariculture has developed very well all over the world. Certain vote should annually be earmarked by the multinational oil companies to develop this area of aquaculture. The products of these efforts will gradually compensate for the loss to oil spillage.”
On ways to tackle the effects of sand dredging activities in Lagos lagoon, the TADAN National President noted that the trend, “is spreading like a wild fire especially in Badagry and Ikorodu. Caution needs to be applied especially as it affects fishing activities of fishermen. The preferred environment of fishes have been disturbed. The breeding grounds in most cases are no more. Fish that cannot reproduce will certainly go into extinction.
“In the area where dredging is taking place, fishermen hardly get access to the lagoon. The miner cancelled their landing point in most cases. Where they manage to access lagoon, they hardly get enough fish to justify their efforts. They must move far away from area of daily dredging because the fishes have abandoned these areas. The government of Lagos State has to regulate the miners’ activities and restrict them to an area.”
If these suggestions by stakeholders are taken to heart and implemented with zeal, the concerns of artisanal fishermen over the sustainability of their livelihood would have been considerably taken care of.