The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) says it is yet to establish any link between oil leaks and death fishes that float and litter the Atlantic coastline across the Niger Delta region.
The agency said it was coordinating a multi-agency investigation that is aimed at unraveling the cause of the reported massive death of fishes within the nation’s territorial waters and was looking beyond the oil industry.
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA, said on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, that investigation was already ongoing despite the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to Musa, officials of NOSDRA deployed from Warri (Delta State), Yenagoa and Port Harcourt (Rivers State) have conducted site visits to the Atlantic coastline in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers stated to collect water and fish samples for tests.
“NOSDRA carried out a reconnaissance of the area in Delta where we first got the report through a member of a non-governmental organisations.
“There is no incident of oil spill within the area of reported dead fishes, notwithstanding that a few dead fishes were seen along the shoreline.
“The event of recent days where the death of fishes in large numbers make it expedient to look beyond oil spillage as the likely cause of death of fishes in such large numbers,” he said.
Musa said that the agency collected samples of water, sediments, and some of the dead fishes for laboratory testing, and in doing so, brought on board other relevant government agencies that have mandate on the territorial waters.
“In particularly the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) and the Federal Institute of Fisheries Research.
“Also, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for all hands to be on deck assessment of the possible cause or causes of death of the fishes in such large numbers,” Musa said.
The NOSDRA chief executive said that the results of ongoing laboratory analysis would be compared with results from the participating agencies to proffer an effective solution and ensure a more stringent regulations in future.
He said it was such situations that informed the agency’s limitations to the use of chemical dispersants in the water bodies near human settlements and assured that NOSDRA remained committed to a sustainable environment.
The Bayelsa State Government on Tuesday urged residents to abstain from harvesting, processing, eating or selling dead fishes currently littering the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the state.
The advice was coming more than one month after reports of massive death of fishes floating near the shoreline across the Niger Delta were deposited on the coastline by tidal waves.
Residents along Koluama, Ekeni, Ezetu, Fishtown, Foropa, Sangana axis of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa had reported sighting dead fishes littering the shoreline, since the middle of March.
Some of the residents said the incident became obvious since March 15 and had yet to abate, fueling fears of pollution of the country’s territorial waters as a result of the dead fishes.
By Nathan Nwakamma