By Adelola Amihere
Worried by the activities of poachers operating illegally in Nigerian waters, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria have alleged that the activities of these poachers are part of an international organised crime causing Nigeria to lose billions of dollars annually.
The President of the Association, Magaret Onyema-Orakwusi stated this along the sidelines of the ongoing Global Conference on Maritime Security holding in Abuja.
While reeling out processes involved in exporting fish out of Nigeria, Onyema-Orakwusi lamented that these poachers who flout these regulations are still able to find market for their illegal products and rake in billions of dollars annually.
She said: “There are regulations for me to be able to effectively export products from my troller. My activities are highly regulated by Nigeria, EU, American authorities before my vessel is even certified to qualify to export products to Europe.
“What that means is that you may own all the trollers in the world, but only ten may pass the test. This also entails checking each part of my vessel to ensure that my vessel is good enough to go out there to get products that their people will eat.
“I also have hygiene regulations too. My crew have to be periodically be tested and everything. The products itself, wherever I am going to fish in the deep waters, the water must be analysed and certified to be free from all sorts of substance.
“My question has always been for long – you have this poachers that come into our waters without compliance to any known international, local law, they steal our fish in a very irresponsible manner which means they sweep from bottom to top because they have nothing at stake in our waters and they leave and they find market for those products running into billions of dollars annually.”
She queried further, “Where are they selling their products? The stolen products where are they finding market? What banking institutions do they use that they are not been accused of money laundering or accommodating proceeds of crime because for some of us who do it the right way, you have to in getting your payment in your dorm account any in the world , you have to tell the history of the fund .
“Something is not adding up there. When we talk about maritime security, I am going to Link them together. Maritime security is very expensive and for piracy, you are talking about international waters. So if the pirates, the poachers are winning the war out there in the sea, how do we pull and sit back and know some other methods of not encouraging what they are doing, not allowing them sell their products and this what we have been trying to advocate”.