The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has launched a scientific inquiry to identify the cause of the recent death of different species of fishes that were 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 is adopting a three- pronged approach to the investigation with a view to achieving its aims and objectives.
The Director General of the agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who made this disclosure in Lagos, Monday, also warned the general public, especially the fishing communities in the affected areas, against the dangers of consuming or harvesting and selling the dead fishes to unsuspecting members of the public.
“We are working with relevant scientific experts to isolate the causes of the abnormal issue of dead fishes along the Niger Delta coastline. We want to identify the causes and establish what can be done to alleviate the adverse effects of this occurrence on the people and the marine environment in the affected areas.
“While we are also 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 fishes, as such acts may carry criminal liabilities, especially with regard to deliberate sale of the dead fishes to the public.”, the DG said.
It was however gathered that the three-pronged investigation would involve an examination of the dead fishes as well as water and sediment analyses.
NIMASA, Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory body has the statutory 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, several other port and flag state regulatory functions.