Fishers have demanded that oil companies and the government should clean up their rivers and estuaries and pay adequate compensation for losses due to oil pollution.
They made the call on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at the close of the Coastal Ecosystems Monitoring and Training Session at Uta Ewua in Ikot Abasi LGA of Akwa Ibom State, organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
The fishers in their resolution after the meeting called on the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority to clear up wrecks and abandoned equipment for safe navigation and fishing activities.
They also called for security agencies to save them from ravages of sea pirates who they consider as a serious threat to lives and property in the area.
The fishers further outlined what they intend to achieve with the environmental training that they received during the session to include:
- Share experiences on how oil spills and environmental pollution affects their community.
- Share knowledge received with other community members.
- Use the knowledge in advocacy, dialogue with the operating companies on safe fishing methods under the FishNet Alliance.
- Use the knowledge gained in engaging government to provide facilities for storage Ag’s processing of their catches.
- Engage in replanting of mangrove tree species and other forest tree species. They will adopt community conservation methods to ensure sustainable reforestation.
- Dialogue with the ministry of agriculture and natural development to ensure adequate support for fisheries in the community and the state in general.
Executive director HOMEF, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, urged fishers and the community people in general to protect the coastline from degradation.
He said: “The Niger Delta coastline is specifically impacted by oil spills, pollution, and the waste been dumped into the river which affects the livelihood of the fisher folk, it affects the quality water and the species in the water. Fisher folk will lose their livelihood which in turn affect the availability of food for Nigeria.
“The essence of the meeting with fishers in Uta Ewa, is to equip them with tools to be the first line monitors of what is happening in their environment. We have engaged different coastal communities such as Makoko in Lagos, Gbarain in Bayelsa, Ogoni in Rivers, Ibeno in Akwa Ibom State and we are now here in Uta Ewua in Akwa Ibom.
“The objective is to have our fisher folks defend their ecosystems, defend their livelihoods, advocate for change and live in dignity. We are doing this by equipping them to monitor their environment and report incidents that they see, including oil pollution in our water. We also noticed the mangrove ecosystems have been invaded by the nipa palm. The mangrove forests help to protect the shoreline, and also provide breeding grounds for fishes. The costal ecosystem is of great value to not only the fishers but to everyone.”
Present at the event were members of the community council, members from various fishers’ associations, NGOs and the media. A chapter of the FishNet Alliance was set up in the community at the close of the training session.