They spoke in Calabar, Tuesday, during an interactive session with Rev Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) on how to tackle challenges fishermen face in their day to day activities.
Most of those who spoke during the interactive session feared that high cost of fishes in the market today was not unconnected with the fact that fishing business was no more appealing particularly as government was doing nothing to mitigate the challenges facing the industry.
Speaking, Mr Saviour Jonah, Secretary of Marina fishing community, said, “let me tell you the simple truth, we are today having unbelievably low catch resulting in high cost of fish because our people are being hounded by a lot of challenges and some are even feaving the business.
“There is lack of support and motivation from government and politicians generally. Crosscheck for yourself whether you ever see them empowering any fisherman with fishing nets, boats, outboard engine during their so called empowerment.
“Pollution from wastes discharged by oil companies have made the matter worst for us. This has the capacity to scare away fishes and cause you to suffer for days without a good catch. Insecurity is another challenge. The water in this side of Calabar channel is polluted; the upper stream which one could go for fishing has been taken over by sea robbers. What do we do?” he asked rhetorically.
He also accused law enforcement agencies of arbitrarily harassing their members in the course of their legitimate businesses insisting that such experience has caused many fishermen to lose faith in government. He further posited that government was encouraging activities of multinational oil companies which in turn become detrimental not only to the health of the citizenry but their survival.
Speaking, Rev Bassey explained that his NGO, in partnership with FISHNET and South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, SDCEA, were out to bringing fishermen across the globe together to proffer solutions to their challenges,
Bassey said Fishnet Alliance seeks promotion of sustainable fishing in line with ecosystem limits and that the group is “against the use of chemicals and explosives to enhance fishing,” and therefore challenged fishermen in the area to create an umbrella platform to channel their grievances and challenges to government and its agencies like NASREA.
“We are out to promote and facilitate exchange of information on sustainable fishing practice derived from local knowledge, and campaign against policies and action that put the rich biodiversity of offshore and inland waters at risk” the clergy cum environmentalist stated.