Residents along Foropa, Sangana axis of the Atlantic coastline in Bayelsa have reported sighting dead fishes littering the shoreline amidst safety concerns in the maritime ecosystem
Some of the residents who spoke in reaction say the development was strange and could be an indication of increasing toxicity of the Atlantic ocean which could impact residents.
Although there was speculation that there was a leak from one of the offshore platforms, checks with the operators indicate that none of the companies has admitted to having an oil leak.
Adi Noel an industry expert said that the incident may have been triggered by the use of dispersants to clean up operational spills.
Dispersants are toxic chemicals used to break down crude oil molecules in deep offshore environments far from human settlements.
Michael Owin who resides at Sangana, a coastline settlement in Bayelsa said that the people have been seeing dead fishes washed and dropped by the tide on a daily basis for some days.
According to him some unsuspecting people have picked the dead fishes takig them for ‘stranded’ and eaten them.
“It is not unusual to find fishes dropped at the coastline after the tide goes down but the number is making us curious to suspect that the marine ecosystem must be getting much toxic.
“The common fish species here are known to be resilient and sensitive, one would have expected them to migrate deeper but their death in numbers may be and indication of crisis,” He said.
Ebi Seigha, a fisherman in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area said in a telephone chat that the fishing communities were worried at the development adding that they were concerned about the health safety of the catch.
Meanwhile, Mr Alagoa Morris, a renowned Environmentalist expressed concerned and urged the relevant government agencies to take urgent steps to find out the root cause of the occurrence.
He said that given the location of several oilfields near the Bayelsa coastline there was need for surveillance to find out if the incident has links with oil and gas exploration.
“Dead fishes washed ashore in great numbers are not only a strange occurrence; it points to a very serious environmental safety related matter.
“Such dead fishes cannot be said to be windfall to be happy about by residents.
“And, it is believed coastline communities should be not only be seriously disturbed, but aware of the dangers of consuming such fishes or even processing and selling to unsuspecting members of the public.
“Just as it has health implications, it is also a livelihood issue as coastline communities mainly depend on the sea for the means of livelihood.
“This is why, the authorities, especially the Federal and State ministries of Environment and oil industry regulators like DPR and NOSDRA should use their good offices to initiate actions that would lead to the source of this suspected poisoning of the aquatic environment experiencing this phenomenon
“And, the earlier this is done, the better for the general good of all Nigerians,” Morris said.