Following reports on the raging issue of dead croaker fishes along the Atlantic shoreline, oil industry regulators have been asked to make it a priority to investigate increased toxicity of the Atlantic coastline, which allegedly, has been causing massive death of fishes.
Iniruo Wills, immediate past Commissioner for the Environment, Bayelsa State, who made the call, noted that continual massive death of fishes within Nigerian territorial waters for the past one month was an indication of a severe underlying factor from nearby oil installations.
Wills stressed that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) should as a matter of urgency swing into action to trace the source of the pollution despite the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard public health.
Speaking on what may likely be responsible for the death of the fishes, George Ibobra, a community leader and former Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, alleged that the site of a 2012 well explosion was likely the cause of the marine pollution.
According to Ibobra, the blowout from the oil and gas well was not properly sealed resulting in the discharge of a mixture of oil and gas leaks which is currently impacting adversely to aquatic life.
Chevron Nigeria, which operates oilfields near the affected communities has however declared that there are no leaks from its facilities in the area.
Esimaje Brikinn, Chevron General Manager in charge of policy, government and public affairs, also denied any links with the alleged pollution to the operations of it oil firm.
It will however be recalled that prior to the above reports, a volunteer team of Bonny indigenes took it upon themselves to go probe the reality, immediate and remote causes, impact, and possible remedy to the situation.
The team which was headed by Godswill Jumbo, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Kristina Reports also included Humphrey Buowari, Director of Environment, Finima Youth Congress (FYC); Kelly Brown, Coordinator of Environment, Finima Youth Congress (FYC); and Kindness Brown, Public Relations Officer, Environment Office, FYC. They came up with the following recommendations:
A declaration of the situation as a public health emergency and that croaker fish for now should be avoided; should not be bought or sold; and not be harvested wherever it is sighted, whether dead or alive;
That law enforcement and security agencies should be mandated to enforce the ban on the fish, especially the harvesting of it onshore and offshore;
That experts should be engaged to explore the possibility of breeding that species of fish so that it doesn’t go extinct and that public health officials should be mandated to study and recommend the best approaches to checkmate any outbreak of infection arising from consuming the fish;
That the results from the laboratory tests of the fish samples, should be made public and where there exists dire consequences, the public should be properly sensitized about it;
And that the relevant public health, environmental and related stakeholders, should be converged to engage in a multi-stakeholder approach to address the issue and find a proper and sustainable solution to it.
The team is said to have contacted Professor Ibitoru Hart and also sent samples of the fish and water from different locations as directed by her in Port Harcourt.