By Chukwudi Ejimofor
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced a scientific inquiry to identify the cause of the recent shoals of dead fishes washed ashore along the Niger Delta coastline states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers, and other places within the region.
The Agency also put up a warning to the general public, especially the fisherfolk in the affected areas, about the dangers of consuming or selling the dead fish to unsuspecting members of the public.
In a Press release signed by Philip Kyannet, Head Corporate Communications stated that the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh opined that “We are working with relevant scientific experts to isolate the cause of the abnormal issue of dead fish along the Niger Delta coastline. We want to identify the cause and establish what can be done to alleviate the adverse effect of this occurrence on the people and the marine environment in the affected areas.
“While we are working to decipher and mitigate this strange incident, we appeal to locals in the affected communities and those who trade in aquatic animals to avoid consumption and sale of the dead fish, as such acts may carry criminal liabilities, especially with regard to deliberate sale of the dead fish to the public.”
The Director General according to the release has set up tripodal investigation that would involve an examination of the dead fishes, water and sediment analyses.
NIMASA has the mandate to regulate and protect the country’s marine environment as provided for in the Merchant Shipping Act 2007 and in compliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 1973/78), and other relevant instruments aimed at protecting the maritime domain.