Rev Nnimmo Bassey, Director of the ecological think tank HOMEF, addressing some fishers at Dic Fiberesima community in Okirika, Rivers State.
*Empowers fishing industry
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A non governmental organization, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), has urged the federal government of Nigeria to ensure the speedy restoration of Niger Delta communities environment suffering from oil spill pollution.
Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, Director of the ecological think tank HOMEF, made the call at the weekend when Fishnet Alliance in collaboration with HOMEF met with Fishermen/women at the Dic Fiberesima community Okirika, Rivers State.
As part of encouragement to fishery industry, the group gave out free fishnets and other items to the fishers of the said communities.
Speaking at the event, Bassey noted that despite the effect of Covid-19 on the economy of the nation and the world at large, the restriction of movements and industrial activities have reduced the rate of pollution in the sea, air and land.
He stressed that the reduction in pollution has increased the number of fishes now seen in the water.
On the reason for the visit, the ecological think tank Director, said they are at the community to encourage those in the fishery industry by providing them with fishing kits, adding that they also sensitized the community people on how to protect the aquatic biodiversity.
Bassey said: “We know that many of our fishing communities are having a very hard time because of oil spills in the water, as well as the COVID-19 restrictions which they suffer, so many of them their economy has literally collapsed, many of them do not have the tools for fishing.
“Even, if they can go to fish, it was difficult, so we came to meet with the fish alliance members, give them fishing kits, they can use collectively, so that instead of renting nets from individuals, they can give it out to members who can go fishing thereby rebuilding their economy. We are also encouraging to set up the local existing system of protecting the aquatic biodiversity, how to protect, revive and grow the economy.
“Fishers recorded more fish in the waters because there were less pollution from oil companies, illegal refineries, and we came to see if it is true, that means if there is less hydrocarbon pollution in Niger Delta, the environment has a chance of recovery.
“So we are stressing the need for protection of environment, stoppage of oil spill, the dropping of waste in the water bodies”.
Describing the Fishnet Alliance as a movement of fishermen, women and fish processor movements, Bassey assured “we will take steps to ensure there is less pollution, if there is any oil spill, they can report immediately to NOSDRA.”
He further stressed that “When we have pollution in the environment, the Federal Government should live to its responsibility because it has the highest share in the resources.
“It is NOSDRA’s duty to detect, respond and stop the pollution from happening again. By the time they are able to penalise polluters, they will learn to stop polluting. NOSDRA need to sit up and be responsive and get down to community engagement”.
Some of the fishers who benefitted from the free fishing kits, thanked the group for encouraging them in their chosen vocation.
Mrs Edith George, said “I thank God that I am a beneficiary in this free net distribution by the Fishnet Alliance and HOMEF. My net is old and I didn’t have money to replace it, so this new one will help me in the business.
“I will use the net to catch more fish and sell to take care of my family. Before now we used to buy the net at N10, 000 but presently it is sold at about N20, 000 and as a poor widow I can’t afford.
“So, I thank the group for relieving us of this fear and providing a free fish nets to us in our community”, she added.
Also, Fubara Sampson, a fisherman and member of Fishnet Alliance, noted that “Before the Covid-19 it was very difficult to catch fish in the water because of the pollution in our rivers. But now we have more fishes but the price is very high.
“All over the Niger Delta, fishes are available now but to buy it is expensive because money is not in circulation, people find it difficult to get money nowadays. Otherwise, people do more catches.
“Another good advantage, the Covid is not a good thing but economically it turns back many locals back to the traditional way of fishing and many engaged in fishing.
Is clear to me this time money is not really in circulation, but this fishing net HOMEF in collaboration with Fishnet Alliance shared to the community will do us a great good because some of the community people want to go fishing but no net. We appreciate the effort, even if is a palliative, is better than the one carton of indomie that government is sharing to the people in the name of palliative during the lockdown.”