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Shoals Of Dead Fish: NIMASA Commences Investigation To unravel What Necessitated the Cause Of The Problem In Delta And Four Other States In The Niger Delta Region

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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Stephen Ubanna

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