By Stephen Ubanna
Tit is not unexpected that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has put down, its scientific knowledge and expertise to investigate the cause of recent shoals of dead fish washed ashore along the Niger Delta coastline states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross river, Delta and Rivers and other places within the region.
This is because of its statutory responsibility to protect the nation’s marine environment and maritime waters in line with the shipping Act of 2007 and in compliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships ,1973, as Modified by the Protocol of 1978(MARPOL73/78) and other relevant instruments aimed at protecting the country’s maritime domain.
This is may have informed why the shoals of dead fish was discovered along the Coastline in some Communities in the region, it was quickly reported to the agency local offices in Port Harcourt and Cross River states. The NIMASA officials were said to have vested the local Communities and made their report which were presented to the Headquarters for action.
Given that the Maritime Regulatory agency had been positioned to a level where it could take up responsibilities without engaging the services of Consultants by Dakuku Peterside, the former Director General, who had invested heavily on staff development both within and outside the country which had equipped them, to do their work, the agency was said to have moved into action.
Ashir Jamoh, the agency Director General, may not have left the work alone to the Technical Staff to handle as he was he was said to have engaged the services of other scientific experts to join in the in the ongoing investigation to unravel the mystery of the shoals of dead fish in the region. ‘’We are working with relevant scientific experts to isolate the cause of the abnormal issue of the dead fish along the five Niger Delta states coast lines’’, he has said.
The NIMASA Director General disclosed that the decision to engage the services of these other scientific experts was informed by the burning desire ‘’to identify the cause of the problem and establish what can be done to avoid such a fish disaster in the region in the future. This is addition to devising ways ‘’to alleviate the adverse effect of this occurrence on the people and the marine environment in the affected states’’.
Given the perceived health hazard of the dead sea fish washed along the five Niger states coastline, the NIMASA boss, who was said to have learnt a lot from Peterside , the former Director General, because of their close working relation relationship in taking prompt decisions was said to have cautioned indigenes of the affected Niger states Communities, where the washed out shoals of fish were discovered on the coastline to avoid consumption or sale of the dead fish to avoid playing into the hands of the agency.
He was said to have sent a signal to the people that the Consumption and sale of the dead fish ‘’will carry criminal liabilities’’’ because it is a deliberate sale of the dead fish to the public without approval from the relevant government agencies. The warning may have put to a halt the desire of those who trade on aquatic animals to start making arrangement to sell the dead fis, described as a gold mine.
The good news was that the agency tripod examination which had been ordered by Jamoh, the Director General, according to Philip Kaynet, an Assistant Director and Head of the agency, Corporate Communications , would involve Laboratory examinations of the dead fish species as well as the water and sediment analysis.
Although, NIMASA , has not released the reports of its findings on the cause of the shoals of dead fish in the region, the rumour making the rounds was that the pollution may have come from Tankers sailing to the oil terminals to lift cargoes and merchant vessels sailing to the south east port Harcourt Area I, Onne, Rivers port, Port Harcourt, Delta ports, Warri and Calabar port, Cross river state which killed the fish and washed them along the coast line in had polluted the water that killed the fish, a quantity that had never been seen in recorded history in the region.
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