2 January 2012, Sweetcrude, EKET – Akwa Ibom State fishermen have complained about the directive by the Nigerian Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), that fishing be suspended because of the recent Bonga oil field spill.
The fishermen said the order has affected their livelihood, stating that NOSDRA did not consider the negative economic implications of the directive to the people in the area.
Rev. Samuel Ayadi, Chairman, Akwa Ibom chapter of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN), made the group’s position known in an interview with newsmen in Eket, Akwa Ibom, Sunday.
Ayadi acknowledged that the order was sequel to the December 20 oil spill, but said the suspension of fishing had taken a negative toll on the people of the state, including short supply of fish and rise in its price.
It will be recalled that Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), on December 21, announced that about 40,000 barrels of crude from its Bonga FPSO vessel leaked into the Atlantic Ocean.
It consequently shut down the facility to forestall further leakage and immediately commenced the process of assessing the situation.
Ayadi said fishermen in the state complied with NOSDRA’s directive out of patriotism, especially to avert catching oil-contaminated fish which could pose a threat to public health.
He said: “We received the directive from NOSDRA urging fishermen to withdraw from the Atlantic Ocean and we immediately mobilised our members to pull out from all fishing activities in the sea.
“It is the health danger in continuing with our routine that made us to obey the directive, but it has practically crippled our means of livelihood for over a week now, making our families to suffer.
“Unfortunately, Shell, the oil firm responsible for the spill, has not said anything about our losses due to the spill which has polluted the waters where we fish.”
He said the chemical component of the dispersant used by Shell to contain the spill was toxic to marine life and had wiped out the fish stock within Nigerian territorial waters.